Kasich urges Senate to take ‘nuclear option’ on Iran deal

In an appearance Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Kasich said Senate Republicans “ought to say that we are not going to permit this to be blocked because of a filibuster,” referring to a traditional Senate tactic which allows 41 lawmakers to prevent the majority from voting on bills.

“There ought to be a vote and there ought to be extreme measures taken in the United States Senate to achieve it,” said Kasich, who is seeking the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Although that would allow the Senate to join the House in rejecting the deal, congressional Republicans lack the votes to override a promised veto by President Barack Obama.

Like most Republicans, Kasich opposes the deal. But Kasich’s gambit has almost no chance of success because the 60-day deadline Congress had to block the deal expired last Thursday. Senate Democrats last week mustered 42 votes to prevent the full Senate from actually voting on the pact.

No there is very little chance Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. will want to alter the Senate’s prized filibuster tradition in exchange for what would be a victory that would not result in the defeat of the Iranian deal.

Because it requires 60 votes to end a filibuster and clear the way for a floor vote, Senate Republicans know they have the votes to block any bill backed by the White House and Senate Democrats, a power they would be reluctant to yield.

“I don’t want to take off the table the ability to slow down Obama in his last 13 to 14 months, because I want 60 votes to stop what I think he’s going to do between now and January 2017,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in Wednesday’s first of two Republican presidential debates in California.

By calling for a dramatic change in Senate procedures, Kasich aligned himself with 57 conservative House Republicans who last week urged McConnell to use his majority of 54 Republicans to end the Democratic filibuster on the Iranian nuclear deal.

The United States, Russia, China, France, Great Britain and Germany signed an accord this summer with Iran aimed at preventing Iran from building a nuclear bomb for at least 15 years.

Secretary of State John Kerry has said the combination of the new agreement and Iran’s apparent willingness to remain a signatory to the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty means that Iran will be subject to rigorous international inspections for decades.

Kasich pointed out in 2013, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., used his majority to end filibusters on judicial nominees. But Reid and Senate Democrats retained the filibuster for most Senate business, such as bills under consideration.

Kasich said if the rules are changed, “then the Senate will have its say. The president may veto it. And then the American people will have more to say, because I don’t meet many American people — many people here in the country who like this agreement. They think it endangers our allies and us.”

Kasich, in part of the interview not aired Sunday but released Saturday, told CNN he would sign a bill being considered by the state legislature that would prohibit abortions if the baby is believed to have Down Syndrome. Until this weekend, Kasich had simply said he would make a decision when the legislature approved the measure.

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