Why Are These Democrats Joining Trump’s Push for War with Iran?

This past week saw a renewed push for war with Iran from the Trump administration, with UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s thinly-evidenced claims that Iran is in violation of international agreements curbing its sale of arms, which for many brought back unpleasant memories of the claims against Iraq that the US used as a justification for war a decade and a half ago.

Never to be let out of a drumbeat for war with Iran, the House passed two bills attacking the Iran Deal, one of Obama’s signature foreign policy achievements.

The first bill was the Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act.

The bill requires the US government to publicly report all assets held by some of Iran’s highest leaders and to describe how these assets are used. Although the backers of this bill allege that it will curb terrorist financing and money laundering, it would just make incentivize anyone engaged in such activities to be even less transparent. Moreover, as Obama noted in a Statement of Administration Policy last year, the bill could be perceived by Iran and other parties to the deal as an attempt to renege on the US’s fulfillments, undermining the future prospects of the diplomatic achievement.

Last year, despite Obama’s opposition, it passed 282 to 143. This year, it passed by an even larger margin of 289 to 135.

56 Democrats joined Republicans in voting for it, and 3 Republicans — Jimmy Duncan (TN-02), Walter Jones (NC-03), and Tom Massie (KY-04) — joined Democrats in voting against it.

Here are the 56 Democrats:

Pete Aguilar (CA-31)

Nanette Barragan (CA-44)

Ami Bera (CA-07)

Brendan Boyle (PA-13)

Anthony Brown (MD-08)

Julia Brownley (CA-26)

Salud Carbajal (CA-24)

Tony Cardenas (CA-29)

Lou Correa (CA-46)

Jim Costa (CA-16)

Charlie Crist (FL-13)

Henry Cuellar (TX-28)

John Delaney (MD-06)

Ted Deutch (FL-22)

Eliot Engel (NY-16)

Adriano Espaillat (NY-13)

Lois Frankel (FL-21)

Jimmy Gomez (CA-34)

Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05)

Gene Green (TX-29)

Alcee Hastings (FL-20)

Steny Hoyer (MD-05)

Ruben Kihuen (NV-04)

Ron Kind (WI-03)

John Larson (CT-01)

Al Lawson (FL-05)

Ted Lieu (CA-33)

Dan Lipinski (IL-03)

Nita Lowey (NY-17)

Stephen Lynch (MA-08)

Sean Maloney (NY-18)

Grace Meng (NY-06)

Stephanie Murphy (FL-07)

Donald Norcross (NJ-01)

Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01)

Frank Pallone (NJ-06)

Jimmy Panetta (CA-20)

Scott Peters (CA-52)

Collin Peterson (MN-07)

Mike Quigley (IL-06)

Kathleen Rice (NY-04)

Jacky Rosen (NV-03)

Raul Ruiz (CA-36)

Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02)

Brad Schneider (IL-10)

Kurt Schrader (OR-05)

David Scott (GA-13)

Brad Sherman (CA-30)

Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)

Albio Sires (NJ-08)

Darren Soto (FL-09)

Tom Suozzi (NY-03)

Dina Titus (NV-01)

Juan Vargas (CA-51)

Filemon Vela (TX-34)

Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23)

Last year, only 42 Democrats had voted for it. What accounts for the difference?

5 Democrats who voted against it last year voted for it this year: Jim Costa, John Larson, Ron Kind, Frank Pallone, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

6 Democrats who voted for it replaced Republicans who had voted for it last year: Charlie Crist, Josh Gottheimer, Ruben Kihuen, Stephanie Murphy, Jacky Rosen, and Brad Schneider.

3 Democrats who voted for it replaced Democrats who had also voted for it: Nanette Barragan (replaced Janice Hahn), Tom O’Halleran (replaced Ann Kirkpatrick), and Tom Suozzi (replaced Steve Israel).

7 Democrats who voted for it replaced Democrats who had voted against it last year: Anthony Brown (replaced Donna Edwards), Salud Carbajal (replaced Lois Capps), Adriano Espaillat (replaced Charlie Rangel), Jimmy Gomez (replaced Xavier Becerra), Al Lawson (replaced Corinne Brown), Jimmy Panetta (replaced Sam Farr), and Darren Soto (replaced Alan Grayson).

Lou Correa replaced Loretta Sanchez, who was absent for last year’s vote.

Brad Ashford (NE-02) and Gwen Graham (FL-02), who both voted for it last year, are no longer in Congress because of electoral loss and retirement, respectively. (Graham is running for Governor.) Chris Van Hollen’s successor, Jamie Raskin, voted against the bill. And Pete DeFazio (OR-04) and Marc Veasey (TX-33) voted for it last but flipped to vote against it this year.

The second bill was the Strengthening Oversight of Iran’s Access to Finance Act, which would create a new unilateral certification requirement related to the Iran Deal, requiring the Treasury Department to report to Congress on the financing of aircraft purchases by Iran and certify whether or not financial transactions to facilitate the export of aircraft to Iran involve activities that could be sanctioned under current law.

Under the deal with Iran, the US made a commitment to “allow for the sale of commercial passenger aircraft and related parts and services to Iran.” This bill would renege on that promise, thus putting the deal itself at risk.

The vote was 252 to 167. On the Republican side, Justin Amash (MI-03) joined Duncan, Jones, and Massie in opposition.

And 23 Democrats joined Republicans in voting for it:

Brendan Boyle (PA-13)

Henry Cuellar (TX-28)

Ted Deutch (FL-22)

Lois Frankel (FL-21)

Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15)

Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05)

Gene Green (TX-29)

Dan Lipinski (IL-03)

Sean Maloney (NY-18)

Grace Meng (NY-06)

Stephanie Murphy (FL-07)

Donald Norcross (NJ-01)

Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01)

Collin Peterson (MN-07)

Jacky Rosen (NV-03)

Brad Schneider (IL-10)

Kurt Schrader (OR-05)

Brad Sherman (CA-30)

Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)

Darren Soto (FL-09)

Tom Suozzi (NY-03)

Juan Vargas (CA-51)

Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23)

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Jonathan Cohn

Jonathan Cohn

Editor. Bibliophile. Gadfly. Environmentalist. Super-volunteer for progressive campaigns. Boston by way of Baltimore, London, NYC, DC, and Philly.