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Iran nuclear deal confronts the undecided California House members

Iran nuclear deal confronts the undecided California House members
Most prominent among the undecided lawmakers is California Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), chairman of the House Democratic caucus. (Lauren Victoria Burke / Associated Press)

Nearly a dozen members of California's delegation to Congress remain undecided on the central issue they will face when returning to Washington on Tuesday — whether to support the Iran nuclear deal.

The House as early as Wednesday will consider a resolution of disapproval authored by the Republican majority. Debate will begin in the Senate on Tuesday, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said he would like senators to sit at their desks, a rare action usually reserved for votes on matters of war. (Both Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California are in favor of the agreement.)

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Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), who heard out constituents' impassioned pleas about the nuclear accord in town hall meetings, phone calls and email exchanges over the summer recess, announced Friday that he will back the deal because it is time to "put diplomacy into action."

"No one believes this proposal is perfect, but going it alone has not stopped Iran on their path toward a nuclear weapon," the freshman lawmaker wrote in an Op-Ed in the Contra Costa Times.

He acknowledged something several politicians have fretted over when wrestling with the decision: It's not clear whether Iran will cheat, and the accord has "some unknowns and hypotheticals." Still, "We do know the oversight of compliance is strong and the consequences for cheating will be enforced," he wrote.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) has been crucial in rallying Democratic troops to help President Obama, though her own lieutenant, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), told the Los Angeles Times last month that he was on the fence himself.

Most prominent among the undecided lawmakers is California Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), chairman of the House Democratic caucus. Activists who organized through MoveOn.org demonstrated in front of his office last month, urging him to support the deal, but Becerra did not tip his hand.

The Los Angeles Times has been keeping an informal tally, and several lawmakers swiftly announced they were supportive of the deal once Obama secured the backing of enough Democratic senators to prevent Republicans from blocking the accord.

Reps. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) and Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands) each said they would back the deal in pre-Labor Day announcements. Chu said the decision was not easy.

"It is true that we will continue to face the challenges of a hostile Iran in the coming years, but now, we can do so for at least 15 years without the threat of a nuclear bomb," she said in a statement. "Considering the anxiety of recent years when the prospect of a military strike on Iran felt imminent, this deal is a welcome alternative."

Still undecided are a handful of Los Angeles-area Democrats, including Reps. Janice Hahn of Los Angeles, Ted Lieu of Torrance and Tony Cardenas of Los Angeles.

Republicans are expected to oppose the deal en masse. The tally of Democrats in the California House delegation stands at:

UNDECIDED

Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles)

Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove)

Tony Cardenas (D-Los Angeles)

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Jim Costa (D-Fresno)

Janice Hahn (D-Los Angeles)

Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael)

Ted Lieu (D-Torrance)

Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk)

Raul Ruiz (D-Palm Desert)

Norma Torres (D-Pomona)

SUPPORT

Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands)

Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles)

Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village)

Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara)

Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park)

Susan A. Davis (D-San Diego)

Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord)

Anna G. Eshoo (D-Menlo Park)

Sam Farr (D-Carmel)

John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove)

Michael M. Honda (D-San Jose)

Barbara Lee (D-Oakland)

Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose)

Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach)

Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento)

Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton)

Mnority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco)

Scott Peters (D-San Diego)

Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Downey)

Linda T. Sanchez (D-Whittier)

Adam Schiff (D-Burbank)

Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough)

Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin)

Mark Takano (D-Riverside)

Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena)

Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles)

OPPOSE

Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks)

Juan Vargas (D-San Diego)

LEAN NO

Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana)

Track the issue at latimes.com/local/political.

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