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Divided Democratic Party Decides Against Openly Debating Iran Deal

Democratic Party avoids nasty public fight over President Obama's nuclear deal at summer meeting.

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MINNEAPOLIS — Democratic Party leadership decided against putting forth, and thus openly debating, a resolution on President Obama's Iran deal at an operational meeting Thursday -- a potential acknowledgement of just how divisive the issue is within the party.

The Democratic National Committee's Resolutions Committee, which considers and recommends changes to the party platform, chose instead to circulate a petition of support for the deal among DNC members meeting in Minneapolis for the party's summer meeting. The petition only registers support for the deal.

"This is the first time we ever did [a letter,]" Resolutions Committee co-chair Jim Zogby told BuzzFeed News after the meeting. He said the letter was his idea, and came about after no DNC members submitted a resolution about the Iran deal before the deadline 14 days prior to Thursday's meeting.

"I said, 'I want to do one,' and [party officials said] 'then you have go to the Executive Committee.' I decided I really didn't want to go that route because I didn't want to put anybody on the spot," Zogby said. "This issue is not going to get decided at the Democratic National Committee, it's going to be decided in Congress. So the option for me was, 'why not just let members show their support for the president? So that's what we decided to do, to take the path of least resistance."

During a brief discussion of the Iran deal at the Resolutions Committee meeting, members said the deal divided some Democratic households in the same way it has divided Democratic leadership in Washington. New York Sen. Charles Schumer, the expected replacement for Nevada Sen. Harry Reid as the Senate's Democratic leader in 2017, is the most prominent of a handful of Democrats opposing the Obama administration-negotiated plan to curtail Iran's nuclear program. Reid supports the plan.

Resolutions passed through the committee Thursday will be voted on by the full DNC membership in attendance Friday. Since the petition is voluntary and circulated among attendees, there will be no vote officially recording opposition and support. The number of signatories on the petition will be public.

The petition, addressed to the president, expresses strong support for the Iran deal while also giving a hat tip to opposition among some Democrats.

"We recognize that there are some who in good faith have expressed reservations with elements of the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]," the letter reads in part, "but we believe that you and key members of your administration have effectively and respectfully responded to these concerns. We, therefore, join you in supporting the JCPOA as the best way forward to secure our nation, our allies and world peace."

Zogby, who supports the Iran deal, said he doubted there would have been a raucous public debate if it had their been a formal resolution on it at the DNC meeting. Members would have eventually negotiated language "everyone could live with," he said.

"I just thought that nobody wanted at this point to spend energy on that," Zogby said. "I just thought if we can get a couple of hundred signatures supporting the president, that's all we want to to do, to just say that we support the president."

Evan McMorris-Santoro is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News.

Contact Evan McMorris-Santoro at evan@buzzfeed.com.

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