"Harry Reid wants to deny the American people a voice entirely by blocking an up-or-down vote on this terrible deal," said Sen. Tom Cotton, a freshman from Arkansas. "He is obstructing because he is scared. He knows that a majority of Americans and senators oppose this dangerous deal, and that its only chance for survival is if he and the president ram it down the throats of the American people."
Cotton's tough-worded press statement came a day after Reid said he hoped to stop the resolution of disapproval procedurally from moving forward -- in other words, filibuster it and prevent a final vote by requiring 60 senators to vote to end debate.
"I said I felt cautiously optimistic that we would have enough votes to sustain the President's veto, and that seems pretty clear to me, but we'll see," Reid told reporters after an event with President Barack Obama Monday in Nevada, according to a transcript provided by Reid's staff. "As far as procedurally stopping this bill from moving forward, I hope -- I know it's a long shot -- but I hope that it can be done."
While overriding a veto would require Republican senators to get 13 Democrats to join them, the threshold for ending a filibuster to hold a vote is lower -- 60 votes instead of 67. That Democrats are eying preventing a vote, and not just sustaining a veto, points to increasing confidence that their party members won't break ranks.
Kristen Orthman, a spokeswoman for Reid, added Tuesday that, "If Senator Cotton is upset with the 60-vote threshold, we recommend he discuss it with the Republican leadership since they were responsible for bringing the bill to the floor that set up a 60-vote threshold."
The Senate is due to debate the issue when it returns from its summer recess on Sept. 8. By law, a final vote would have to happen by Sept. 17 or the Iran nuclear accord could be formally implemented by the White House.
With all 54 Republicans expected to vote in favor of the disapproval resolution, 41 of 46 Democrats would have to vote to block it for a filibuster to be successful. Right now, only two Democrats -- New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez -- have come out against the deal, while 29 Democrats have announced their support for it. Fifteen Democrats remain undecided. Of those, a CNN survey shows that three are leaning against voting for the deal.
One of the remaining undecided Democrats is Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who got an earful Tuesday from his governor, Chris Christie, a Republican who is running for president.
"To those who have not yet announced their position, particularly my friend Sen. Cory Booker, this cannot be about politics and this cannot be accepting the flawed idea that a bad deal is better than no deal," Christie said.
Murray pledges support for deal
Also on Tuesday, Washington Sen. Patty Murray became the latest Democrat to support the deal.
"This is not a perfect deal, and there are several elements I would like to be stronger," Murray, the Senate's fourth-ranking Democrat, said in a statement. "But after working my way through the details and the alternatives, losing a lot of sleep, and having a lot of good conversations with so many people, I am convinced that moving forward with this deal is the best chance we have at a strong diplomatic solution."
Murray's announcement leaves Schumer as the only Democrat in Senate leadership who has opposed the deal.