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Democrats Block Iran Deal Disapproval (Updated)

Coons will vote against cloture. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated: 5:27 p.m. | The Senate debate on the Iran deal will continue through next week, after a cloture vote failed 58-42 Thursday.  

Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, one of the reluctant supporters of the international nuclear agreement who Republicans had hoped would break on the cloture vote on a disapproval measure and support limiting debate, told CQ Roll Call just prior to the vote he would not do so.  

"I will vote against cloture today," Coons said. "What that means is that debate will continue. Hopefully over the next several days ... as debate continues, Leader McConnell will hear from enough members — Republicans and Democrats — and members will hear from enough constituents that they want us to take a final up-or-down vote, and the leader will reconsider and we will have an up-or-down vote with a 60-vote margin next week."  

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has been seeking an agreement providing for a final vote at a simple majority threshold, which would allow the bill to pass the Senate. Coons said he agreed with the super-majority requirement proposed by Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.  

Reid addressed reporters after the vote, after McConnell set up another cloture vote on the same disapproval measure next week.  

"People around the world should know that today's outcome was clear, decisive and final. There's now doubt whatsoever that the Congress of the United States will allow this agreement to go forward. Efforts by opponents to derail this agreement were soundly rejected," Reid told reporters, adding that attempts to have the vote again will be "simply a waste of time."  

Reid said that on a policy matter with ramifications such as the Iran deal, switching votes would be a "dumb thing" to do, and he and Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., were confident the vote would hold up.  

Reid and McConnell traded objections to unanimous consent requests Thursday morning, and Coons said he expected Reid to repeat those requests next week.  

A sustained filibuster would prevent President Barack Obama from even facing the prospect of having to veto disapproval of the deal. Forty-two Senate Democratic caucus members support the deal.  

Reid argued the cloture vote should be viewed as final, but Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, made clear that more votes (perhaps including another cloture vote) will take place next week.  

Cornyn said that after next week's consideration of Iran deal disapproval legislation, McConnell will likely file cloture with respect to anti-abortion legislation.  

"I think we've been working with a number of folks in the pro-life community asking them the question how can we advance the pro-life agenda, not how can we set it back by associating it with a disastrous government shutdown," Cornyn said.  

Asked specifically about a bill introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to prohibit abortion after 20 weeks, Cornyn said that it was "certainly one of them, but it's not limited to that."  

Of that plan, Reid was equally critical.  

"I was disappointed to see in the press the first thing that I've been told that the Republicans are going to try and do now other than wasting more time on this — they're going to an abortion vote before the pope gets here. Of course it won't get out of the Senate," Reid said. "We've got stuff we need to do with the budget, with highways, with cyber security and on and on."

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