GOP senators to Iran: Deal us in on the nuclear negotiations

U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson today joined 45 or their GOP colleagues in a letter aimed at Iranian officials, warning them that a nuclear deal cut only with President Barack Obama would expire the moment he leaves the White House in 2017.

President Barack Obama accused the senators of making common cause with Iranian hardliners.

The Senate letter was authored by Tom Cotton, the recently elected senator from Arkansas. Perdue’s was the second signature.

From the letter:

“…[W]e will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Kahamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

From Perdue’s press release:

.“Congress should have the opportunity to review any agreement reached with Iran to ensure the Obama Administration has not made any dangerous concessions throughout the process. It’s critical that the leaders of Iran are aware of Congress’ role, and I call on President Obama to responsibly work with Congress so that we can make sure Iran’s ambition for a nuclear weapon is quelled.”

In addition to Cotton, Perdue and Isakson, signatories to the letter include three potential presidential candidates, including Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Read the letter here:

Democrats immediately denounced the letter as an extraordinary breach of the separations of power. The letter is not wholly without precedent. In 2002, before the U.S. invaded that country, three Democratic members of Congress visited Iraq – to harsh condemnation from Republicans.

And the Washington Post reminds us that in 1968, Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon secretly contacted the government of South Vietnam to scuttle peace talks that President Lyndon Johnson was engaged in. quotes Dick Durbin, D-Illinois thusly:

“Understand that if these negotiations fail, a military response to Iran developing their nuclear capability becomes more likely,” Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a written statement. “These Republican Senators should think twice about whether their political stunt is worth the threat of another war in the Middle East.”

From Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.:

Today’s unprecedented letter, originated by a United States Senator who took his oath of office merely 62 days ago, is the kind of pettiness that diminishes us as a country in the eyes of the world. Republicans need to find a way to get over their animosity of President Obama. I can only hope they do it sooner rather than later.

Obama himself addressed the letter when before reporters today:

“I think it's somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran. It's an unusual coalition. I think what we’re going to focus on right now is actually seeing whether we can get a deal or not. And once we do -- if we do -- then we’ll be able to make the case to the American people, and I'm confident we’ll be able to implement it.”

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About the Author

Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.