Sen. Chuck Schumer to vote against Iran deal

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WASHINGTON -- New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, an influential Jewish Democrat who's poised to assume leadership of his party in the Senate, will oppose President Barack Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, he announced on Thursday evening.

"After deep study, careful thought and considerable soul-searching, I have decided I must oppose the agreement and will vote yes on a motion of disapproval," Schumer wrote in a 1,600-word post on the website Medium that posted during the first Republican presidential debate.

"I will vote to disapprove the agreement, not because I believe war is a viable or desirable option, nor to challenge the path of diplomacy," he added later. "It is because I believe Iran will not change, and under this agreement it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power."

Schumer's thinking on the deal has been closely watched since the plan to loosen sanctions on Tehran in exchange for access to potential nuclear sites was announced in early July.

He said in public comments over the past several weeks he was going through the deal with a "fine-tooth comb" and received briefings from top administration officials to digest the deal's inner workings.

His announcement Thursday came after two Democratic colleagues -- fellow New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire -- both said they would back the agreement, which lawmakers have until mid-September to decide upon.

In the House, at least five Democrats came out in support of the plan on Wednesday following a major speech by Obama defending it.

A White House official suggested Thursday that Schumer's announcement of opposition came only after enough Democratic support was assured to keep the plan intact.