Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland became the 34th senator to support the Iran nuclear deal, ensuring a landmark victory for President Barack Obama.
“No deal is perfect, especially one negotiated with the Iranian regime,” Mikulski said in a statement. “I have concluded that this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the best option available to block Iran from having a nuclear bomb. For these reasons, I will vote in favor of this deal.”
Mikulski’s vote in support of the agreement deprives Republicans of the votes needed to overcome a congressional challenge by many Republicans and some influential Democrats.
In her statement, Mikulski said she spent countless hours reading the intelligence and worked hard to make an informed decision that considers the future "10, 15, 25 years from now."
“Without question, this vote is among the most serious I’ve taken,” she said. “This vote has monumental and enduring consequences.
The deal — signed by Iran, the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia — limits Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions. The U.N. Security Council endorsed the deal.
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke in Philadelphia Wednesday morning to adress the deal. In his speech at the National Constitution Center, Kerry outlined the agreement and said rejecting it will damage America’s standing with the world.
Kerry said leading scientists across the country have called the deal “technically sound.”
“Just apply your common sense — what do you think will happen if we say to Iran, ‘Forget it, deal is off,'” Kerry said. “How will the world react? All of whom are prepared to go forward.”
Rejecting the deal would be a step in the wrong direction, Kerry said, adding that the United States’s negotiation leverage “will diminish, if not disappear.”
He also tired to dispel what the administration is calling “myths” about the deal including that the agreement is based on trust.
“There is not a single sentence in the whole agreement that depends on promises or trust,” Kerry said. “Arrangements we worked out with Tehran are based exclusively on verification and proof. That’s why sanctions relief is tied strictly to performance.”
Kerry also dispelled a myth that Iran would be able to build a covert facility, arguing that stringent inspections measures are in place which allow inspectors access to all of Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“You can bet if we see something, we will do something,” Kerry said. “The agreement gives us a wide range of enforcement tools and we will use there. There’s no way to guarantee Iran will keep its word … but if Iran decides to break the agreement, it will regret breaking any promise it has made.”