Congressional Republicans are in "a rush to war" with Iran, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.
But after using the phrase "rush to war," Earnest caught himself.
"The rush to war, or at least the rush to the military option, that many Republicans are advocating is not at all in the best interest of the United States," Earnest said as he blasted the latest move by Senate Republicans to interject themselves into the critical talks with Iran about its nuclear program by sending an open letter to the regime.
From the White House's perspective, the Republican Party is effectively taking a war-first approach to foreign policy.
Earnest, at the daily White House briefing, noted Republican leaders back unlimited presidential authority to wage war against the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, but are trying to tie the president's hands when he tries to conduct diplomacy.
He accused them of following the same no-conservative advice the previous administration employed — a policy he said led to a diminished standing for the United States in the world and was not supported by the American public.
Earnest noted that some of the senators signing on to the letter to Iran's leaders had previously criticized the administration for being willing to talk to Iran's leaders at all. (John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina are among those who have previously slammed Obama for naivete for his willingness to sit down with Iranian leaders.)
More generally, Earnest said Congress would ultimately have a role in implementing the deal if one is reached, but that an immediate vote on the deal itself is not necessary. He noted an agreement with Syria that led to the destruction of that country's chemical weapons did not require an act of Congress. And he said it would take "years" of compliance with the deal by Iran before the administration would ask Congress to drop sanctions against the regime.
Ultimately, that means implementing the deal would be up to the next president, something Earnest acknowledged. But Earnest suggested it would be hard to imagine a president on their first day in office backing out of a deal to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
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