Rep. Brad Sherman explains opposition to Iran nuclear deal on 'Your World'

High-ranking Democrat breaks with White House


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," August 10, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Sometimes, it seems that hell hath no fury like a president spurned or at least liberals spurned when it came to this Iran deal and New York Senator Chuck Schumer saying that he is against it, not signing on to it, and now might even work to push an override of an expected presidential veto if it doesn't work out.

California Congressman Brad Sherman of the fine state of California could be finding out the same thing.

Congressman, good to have you.

REP. BRAD SHERMAN, D-CALIF.: Good to be with you.

CAVUTO: You know the angst and the grief that Chuck Schumer's office has been getting. Some say it was calculated on the senator's part. He knew that would be coming, but he knew that the votes wouldn't be there for an override either, so he gets it both ways.

I don't necessarily concur with that, but with you and this override issue, you're against this, but already the left is pouncing on those Democrats who oppose this as not helping the cause of peace and, more, not helping this party or president. What do you say?

SHERMAN: Well, I think this deal has some positive and some negative aspects at the beginning, that you get the good, the bad, the ugly. It's good and bad at the beginning. It gets ugly in the years to come.

The good includes Iran giving up 97 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium and two-thirds of their centrifuges. The bad is that Iran gets its hand on $56 billion or more of its own money. But it gets ugly in a few years, when Iran can have an unlimited number of centrifuges, a preprocessing facility, heavy water reactors, all the things those concerned with proliferation identify as red buttons that have to be avoided.

CAVUTO: All right, fair enough, but, obviously, you're using some sound arguments at least to raise concerns about the deal, but those are the same arguments Senator Schumer used.

And I want to quote something from Dan Pfeiffer, the former senior adviser to that president, who said -- and I quote -- "Senator Schumer siding with the GOP against Obama, Clinton and most Democrats will make it hard for him to lead the Democrats in 2016."

What do you make of that?

SHERMAN: I think the White House is angry, but the fact is that...

CAVUTO: Well, that's more than angry, Congressman. That seems like a threat.


SHERMAN: That happens in our business.

The fact is, I came out against this deal many weeks ago, but I was holding out for a different legislative strategy to combat it. Just last Friday, I decided to go along with the strategy that has been agreed to. And...


CAVUTO: Which is what? Enlighten me. What's the strategy?

SHERMAN: Well, we could have had a resolution of approval, voted it down, and that would never go to the president's desk, and we would show the entire world that Congress had rejected the deal by a large margin.

Instead, we're going with a resolution of disapproval. That will go to the president's desk. It will be vetoed. And I hate to say it, but I think that veto will be sustained probably in both houses. And then the rest of the world will be confused.

CAVUTO: Well, I guess I don't understand the difference. I don't understand the difference, sir. Rejection is rejection is rejection.


SHERMAN: The Corker bill...

CAVUTO: Go ahead.

SHERMAN: In my business, procedure is just as important as substance.

A resolution of approval would be a nonbinding resolution. It could be voted down by 60, even 70 percent of the vote, never go to the president's desk. Now, he would still be free to issue waivers of certain U.S. sanctions for the remainder of his term.

CAVUTO: Right.

SHERMAN: Frankly, I think he is going to do that no matter what Congress does.


CAVUTO: Are you a lawyer, Congressman?

SHERMAN: It's a matter of due...

CAVUTO: Are you a lawyer?


CAVUTO: Are you a lawyer?

SHERMAN: I am indeed.

CAVUTO: Touche. That's brilliant, because I don't even understand it.


SHERMAN: I'm sorry.

CAVUTO: But let me ask you, in all seriousness, sir, do you get a sans or has anyone at the White House or anyone else made it clear that they're not satisfied or very happy with your decision on this? And has any of them even intimated that you could pay for this?

SHERMAN: I'm heard from local groups and some of the national groups, but not from the White House.

CAVUTO: What have your heard? What have those groups told you?


SHERMAN: They have expressed a certain lack of satisfaction.

But the White House knows that this has been the issue I focused on for 19 years. I identified the Iran nuclear program as the number one threat to American security...


CAVUTO: I know, but -- I know this much, that the president personally was trying to petition your vote and talked to you. When you talked to him then, did you say that this was the direction you were heading?

SHERMAN: He knew that, of all Democrats, I was a part of a small group that he would expect to lose on this vote.

CAVUTO: And did he say that I'm OK with losing you, Congressman?


CAVUTO: I don't want to, or did it get nastier than that, or what?

SHERMAN: It certainly was not nasty. We spent some time talking about how the administration would respond to particular congressional votes.

And, frankly, he is keeping those cards close to his vest even when he is talking in private.

CAVUTO: But he obviously has a plan to deal with a lot of rejections, and a lot more Democrats will join you, right?

SHERMAN: He is planning to win with at least one-third of the Senate and at least one-third of the House.

CAVUTO: Well, he needs one-third and one. He needs one-third and one, doesn't he?

SHERMAN: He needs to win in one house or the other. He is planning to win in both.


SHERMAN: And you would expect the president on foreign policy to at least get that. Usually, the situation is, will the Senate ratify a treaty?  That take a two-thirds vote for the president.


SHERMAN: Here, he just need a one-third vote.

CAVUTO: All right. Thank you, Congressman. Very good having you again.

SHERMAN: Thank you.

CAVUTO: All right.

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