In a major signal of public support, 150 House Democrats signed a letter Thursday supporting President Barack Obama's framework for a nuclear deal with Iran.
"As negotiations over Iran's nuclear program continue, we urge you to stay on course, building on the recently announced political framework and continuing to work toward a strong and verifiable agreement between the P5+1 countries and Iran that will prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon," the letter begins. The 150 Democrats — 145 of whom can vote — is a significant number. As the Washington Post points out , if Congress voted to reject the Iranian nuclear deal, and Obama vetoed the rejection, there would appear to be just enough Democrats to sustain the president's veto.
The Senate advanced language Thursday , 98-1, that would give Congress a say over the deal. But the current language would effectively require a two-thirds majority, meaning the 150 Democrats signed onto Thursday's letter — which was written by Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Lloyd Doggett of Texas and David E. Price of North Carolina — could essentially render input from the rest of Congress meaningless.
Of course, that assumes all Democrats on the letter remain supportive of a deal that would hypothetically be voted down by the rest of Congress. Notably, there are more than 40 Democrats who did not sign the letter, including Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California did sign.
Either way, the Obama administration continues to work out the fine details with Iran and the other permanent countries on the U.N. Security Council (plus Germany, hence the "P5+1" moniker). The outline of the deal would trade a lifting of sanctions on Iran in exchange for a number of concessions on the country's nuclear programs, including U.N. inspections, the scaling back of uranium production and the degradation of Iran's most refined nuclear materials.
But the deal has yet to be finalized. An agreement is set for June 30, but even that deadline could be extended.
The full text of the letter follows:
May 7, 2015 The President The White House Washington, D.C. 20500 Dear Mr. President: As negotiations over Iran's nuclear program continue, we urge you to stay on course, building on the recently announced political framework and continuing to work toward a strong and verifiable agreement between the P5+1 countries and Iran that will prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon. We commend you and your negotiating team, as well as our coalition partners, for the significant progress made thus far. This issue is above politics. The stakes are too great, and the alternatives are too dire. We must exhaust every avenue toward a verifiable, enforceable, diplomatic solution in order to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. If the United States were to abandon negotiations or cause their collapse, not only would we fail to peacefully prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, we would make that outcome more likely. The multilateral sanctions regime that brought Iran to the table would likely collapse, and the Iranian regime would likely decide to accelerate its nuclear program, unrestricted and unmonitored. Such developments could lead us to war. War itself will not make us safe. A U.S. or Israeli military strike may set back Iranian nuclear development by two or three years at best - a significantly shorter timespan than that covered by a P5+1 negotiated agreement. We must pursue diplomatic means to their fullest and allow the negotiations to run their course – especially now that the parties have announced a strong framework – and continue working to craft a robust and verifiable Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by June 30. We must allow our negotiating team the space and time necessary to build on the progress made in the political framework and turn it into a long-term, verifiable agreement. If we do not succeed, Congress will remain at-the-ready to act and present you with additional options to ensure that Iran is prevented from acquiring a nuclear weapon Thank you for your resolve in preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. We look forward to continuing our shared work on this important matter. Sincerely, Jan Schakowsky Lloyd Doggett David E. Price Member of Congress Member of Congress Member of Congress List of signers in alphabetical order 1 Adams, Alma 2 Aguilar 3 Ashford 4 Bass 5 Beatty 6 Becerra 7 Bera 8 Beyer 9 Bishop, S. 10 Blumenauer 11 Bonamici 12 Bordallo 13 Brady 14 Brown, Corrine 15 Brownley 16 Bustos 17 Butterfield 18 Capps 19 Capuano 20 Cardenas 21 Carney 22 Carson 23 Cartwright 24 Castor 25 Castro 26 Chu 27 Cicilline 28 Clark, Katherine 29 Clarke, Yvette 30 Clay 31 Cleaver 32 Clyburn 33 Cohen 34 Connolly 35 Conyers 36 Courtney 37 Cummings 38 Davis, D. 39 Davis, S. 40 DeFazio 41 DeGette 42 DeLauro 43 DelBene 44 DeSaulnier 45 Dingell 46 Doggett 47 Doyle 48 Duckworth 49 Edwards 50 Ellison 51 Eshoo 52 Esty 53 Farr 54 Fattah 55 Foster 56 Fudge 57 Gallego 58 Garamendi 59 Green, Al 60 Grijalva 61 Gutierrez 62 Hahn 63 Heck 64 Higgins 65 Hinojosa 66 Honda 67 Huffman 68 Jackson Lee 69 Jeffries 70 Johnson, E.B. 71 Johnson, H. 72 Kaptur 73 Keating 74 Kelly 75 Kennedy 76 Kildee 77 Kind, Ron 78 Kuster 79 Langevin 80 Larsen 81 Larson 82 Lawrence 83 Lee 84 Lewis 85 Lieu 86 Loebsack 87 Lofgren 88 Lowenthal 89 Lujan 90 Lujan Grisham 91 Lynch 92 Maloney, S 93 Matsui 94 McCollum 95 McDermott 96 McGovern 97 McNerney 98 Meeks 99 Moore 100 Moulton 101 Napolitano 102 Neal 103 Nolan 104 Norton 105 O'Rourke 106 Payne 107 Pelosi 108 Perlmutter 109 Pierluisi 110 Pingree 111 Plaskett 112 Pocan 113 Polis 114 Price 115 Rangel 116 Richmond 117 Roybal-Allard 118 Ruiz 119 Ruppersberger 120 Rush 121 Ryan, Tim 122 Sablan 123 Sanchez, Linda 124 Sanchez, Loretta 125 Schakowsky 126 Scott, Bobby 127 Scott, David 128 Serrano 129 Sewell 130 Slaughter 131 Smith, Adam 132 Speier 133 Swalwell 134 Takai 135 Takano 136 Thompson, B. 137 Thompson, M. 138 Tonko 139 Torres 140 Tsongas 141 Van Hollen 142 Veasey 143 Velazquez 144 Visclosky 145 Walz 146 Waters 147 Watson Coleman 148 Welch 149 Wilson 150 YarmuthRelated: Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Iran Bill; Boehner Looks to House Action House Democrats Forced to Choose Sides in Iran Debate The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.