Representative Sander M. Levin, a Democrat from Michigan and the longest-serving Jewish member now in Congress, said Tuesday he would support the Iran nuclear accord, reports The New York Times.
“Israel’s security has and always will be of critical importance to me and our country,” he said in a lengthy statement explaining his decision.
“I believe that Israel, the region, and the world are far more secure if Iran does not move toward possession of a nuclear weapon. I believe the agreement is the best way to achieve that. In my view, the only anchors in public life are to dig deeply into the facts and consult,” Levin added, according to The New York Times.
Levin’s remarks came as members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee began a sharp grilling of three cabinet secretaries sent to Capitol Hill for the second time by President Barack Obama to defend the agreement, the report said.
While many Republicans have already lined up against the accord and some Democrats rushed in early to defend it, the administration is most deeply concerned with congressional Democrats, especially Jewish members and those who hail from heavily Jewish districts and have expressed skepticism, noted The Times.
In a demonstration of that tension, Representative Ed Royce, Republican of California and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat New York and ranking Democrat on the committee, both sounded notes of alarm.
Noting that “barely a week after the deal” was announced, the supreme leader of Iran called publicly for “death to America” Engel asked, “How can we trust Iran when this type of thing happens?”
Congress currently has 60 days to review the deal reached between the sides before approving it or rejecting it, though Obama has threatened to "veto any legislation" passed by Congress blocking the deal.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, last week urged her colleagues to back the agreement.
"As you may be aware, I believe that this agreement is a major accomplishment. I am pleased that the response thus far from House Democrats has been so positive," she said in a letter to colleagues, which came as congressional Republicans railed against a UN vote on the deal.
On the flip side, House Speaker John Boehner vowed to "do everything possible" to stop the deal between Iran and nuclear powers from being approved by Congress.
"While the president's Iran deal may have been applauded at the United Nations, I think he faces serious skepticism here at home," Boehner asserted.
"Members of Congress will ask much tougher questions this afternoon when we meet with the president's team, and because a bad deal threatens the security of the American people, we're going to do everything possible to stop it," he added.
On Sunday, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia said he is leaning toward supporting the Iranian nuclear deal, because the alternative would be war.
Speaking to CBS’ “Face the Nation”, Manchin said he had spoken to leaders in four of the five countries that negotiated the Iran nuclear deal, and if Congress rejects it, the U.S. will be on its own and faced with going to war against Iran.