Tags: Iran | iran | gop | letter | nuclear | sanctions | congress

Iran Letter Puts Bipartisan Push at Risk, Democrats Say

By    |   Tuesday, 10 March 2015 01:53 PM

After 47 Republican senators sent a letter to the leaders of Iran denouncing the nuclear deal currently being negotiated by the administration, Democrats are finding themselves in a difficult spot between confronting Tehran or standing behind the president, The New York Times reported.

"I think Republicans have made it harder for us to approach this in a careful and bipartisan way," Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, a leader in pushing for congressional review of the administration's policies on war and sanctions, told the Times.

He added, "I regret that this partisan and nutty behavior makes people focus on politics and not the substance."

In an open letter Monday to the leaders of Iran, Republican lawmakers warned that any nuclear deal they cut with President Barack Obama could expire the day he leaves office. The letter was an attempt to make it more difficult for Obama and five world powers to strike an initial agreement by the end of March to limit Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran insists is for peaceful purposes.

Some dissenters say the move will undermine the Republicans' ability to get Democrats to sign on to a congressional vote to approve or reject an Iran deal, Politico reported.

On Tuesday, Democrats denounced the letter to Iran on the Senate floor.

The White House, meanwhile, has been working to keep Democrats on board for the deal while also capitalizing on the deepening partisan rift, the Times said.

Vice President Joe Biden, in a harshly worded letter Monday, said he could not recall any other occasion in which senators had written to the leaders of another country, "much less a foreign adversary," to suggest a president did not have the authority to agree a deal with them.

"This letter, in the guise of a constitutional lesson, ignores two centuries of precedent and threatens to undermine the ability of any future American president, whether Democrat or Republican, to negotiate with other nations on behalf of the United States," Biden wrote.
"Honorable people can disagree over policy. But this is no way to make America safer or stronger."

Meanwhile, the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who has been negotiating with Secretary of State John Kerry and other foreign leaders, said the letter is proof that the United States could not be trusted.

"This kind of correspondence, which is an unprecedented and nondiplomatic action, in fact, tells us that the United States is not trustworthy," Zarif was quoted as having said by Iranian news agencies, according to the Times.

Two bills are expected to be put forward by U.S. lawmakers, both of which have bipartisan support. One would increase the economic sanctions on Iran and the other would force the administration to allow Congress to review the deal before it went into effect.

Until now, both bills looked to have a veto-proof majority in the Senate, which would enable them to overcome Obama's promised veto.

But Democrats are now warning that the Republican letter to Iran may backfire, losing the necessary Democratic support to pass the measures. It also comes on the heels of Democratic anger over the Republican invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of Congress.

"The whole brouhaha last week reduced from a 40 percent chance to a 4 percent chance that Democrats will vote in sufficient numbers to override a veto," California Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman, one of the most ardent supporters of Israel in his caucus, told the Times.

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The letter 47 Republican senators sent to the leaders of Iran denouncing the nuclear deal currently being negotiated by the administration, has "made it harder for us to approach this in a careful and bipartisan way," Democratic lawmakers say.
iran, gop, letter, nuclear, sanctions, congress
Tuesday, 10 March 2015 01:53 PM
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