News of yet another extension of the deadline for nuclear talks with Iran might prove a boon for lawmakers and staffers with plans to get out of town in August.
A longer, 60-day review period would kick in if an agreement is submitted to Congress any time between July 10, which is Friday, and Labor Day. Any agreement submitted in that time would mean the Senate's upcoming recess could begin as scheduled by Aug. 10, without the risk of needing to quickly return to Capitol Hill for a bid to override a veto of Iran agreement disapproval legislation. Lawmakers are due back by Sept. 8, which would be at the tail end of the review window. On Sunday, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., expressed concern in an interview with CBS' "Face the Nation" that countries involved in the talks might be trying to speed ahead this week to prevent just such an extended congressional review. But White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday talks would continue, even if that means moving past Thursday without an agreement and potentially triggering that extended time.
"I think the first thing that we have been clear about is that the president will not accept any sort of an agreement that falls short of the political commitments that were made back in April, and as [Secretary of State John] Kerry himself said back on Sunday, we have been closer to reaching a final agreement than we are now," Earnest told reporters. "But there continue to be some significant differences that remain, and ... this is a view not just of the United States, but this is the view of all of our P5-plus-1 partners as well. So that's an indication that these talks, at least for now, are worth continuing, and that is what's driving this decision-making process."
Earnest said the Obama administration would "welcome" extra scrutiny that could go with extra time for the talks, likely pushing the review period into and through August, but Republicans have begun to call for Kerry to step away from the talks.
"Today I am calling upon former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, under whose leadership this bad deal began, and other Presidential candidates to join me in demanding that Secretary Kerry stop negotiating with this hostile and violent enemy of America and immediately leave Vienna," GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz said in a statement late Monday.
Freshman Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., joined in the same vein with a statement Tuesday.
"It is time for us to stand firm instead of moving the goal posts yet again. Iran’s empty negotiation terms should result in an empty negotiation table, which is why I urge Secretary Kerry to suspend nuclear negotiations with Iran," Perdue, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Tuesday. "We must return to a position of strength and insist on a better deal. If one cannot be achieved, then the United States should walk away and enforce even stronger sanctions."
Senate Democrats are scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama Tuesday evening at the White House. It is the first day most of them are back in Washington, D.C., after the Independence Day break.
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