Despite the backlash against the open letter sent last week by Republicans
to Iran's leaders, Democrats say they are still prepared to support legislation that could impose new sanctions on Iran or give Congress review power over the deal, Politico
"The letter's incredibly unfortunate and inappropriate," North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who voted for the sanctions bill in committee and is a sponsor of the congressional approval legislation, told Politico. "That doesn't diminish my support for the legislation that we introduced."
The White House has been lobbying Congress to stay out of its negotiations. White House chief of staff Denis McDonough wrote to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker to hold off on a vote on his bill that would give Congress 60 days to reject or approve any deal until after the administration finished its negotiations.
But Republicans intend to move more quickly, Politico noted.
The bill has nearly a dozen Democratic supporters but McDonough argues that the measure "goes well beyond ensuring that Congress has a role to play in any deal with Iran."
Corker has said that he has not seen any Democrats back away from their support of his measure.
"Nobody's dropping out. We've had reaffirmed commitment," from Democrats, he told Politico.
As it stands, nearly all of the 54 Republicans and more than a dozen Democrats in the Senate are on board.
"The letter was simply unacceptable, and it brought hyperpartisanship to an issue that we need to maintain our bipartisanship in," Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, a supporter of sanctions that would not take effect unless talks fall apart or Iran backs away from the terms of any deal, told Politico.
"That doesn't change my support for that bill. … I stay firm."
A group of 10 Democrats has insisted it would not support a bill that would allow Congress to reject a deal before the March 24 negotiations deadline.
Meanwhile, the House intends to hold hearings this week to question administration officials on Iran, a signal which may indicate an intention to pass a sanctions bill as the House did in 2013.
The White House is focused on achieving the deal regardless of moves on Capitol Hill.
"The administration is focused on achieving a deal that prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon," a senior administration official told Politico.
"If a deal is reached, we will make the case to the Congress and the American people as to why the deal we are negotiating is in the national security interests of the United States and our international partners."
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