The Hill

By Alexander Bolton
04/11/15 – 11:34 AM EDT

Democrats are badly split on geographic and political lines over whether to support or oppose a bill allowing Congress to review and possibly vote on a nuclear deal with Iran.

The debate is pitting New York Democrats worried about losing Jewish donors to Republicans against California Democrats determined to back President Obama.

Jewish Democrats such as New York Sen. Charles Schumer and New York Reps. Eliot Engel and Steve Israel worry that if the deal backfires their party could pay the price in future elections.

They are more reflexively concerned about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s criticism of the nuclear talks, memorably delivered to Congress in blunt terms last month.

California Democrats such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is Jewish, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, however, have pointedly criticized Netanyahu. They have backed the White House and oppose legislation that would require Obama to wait sixty days before waiving sanctions.

The 60 days is intended to give Congress time to review a final deal, and could lead to a vote of disapproval. The White House warns it could kill the talks, which are set to continue through the end of June.

Jewish Democratic donors on the East Coast warn the emerging nuclear deal will cost their party and say if Democratic lawmakers oppose legislation to give Congress oversight the reverberations will be worse.

“There are Democrats that would reconsider their support or their level of support next year. The combination of [the deal] and this almost blatant animosity between the president and the prime minister just exacerbates things,” said Alan Kessler, a Democratic fundraiser based in Philadelphia.

“I’ve heard from Democratic activist fundraisers who are not happy and you wonder about the effect on Jewish voters,” he said. “There’s a concern this will have an effect on 2016 elections.”

Schumer is a co-sponsor of the review legislation along with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).

On Monday he said, “Congress should have the right to disapprove any agreement.”

Other New York Democrats have backed him.

Engel, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Affairs panel, told MSNBC, “Congress has to play a role.”

“This is very, very important and I think Congress has to decide. In some form, Congress has to assent to it or dissent,” he said.

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