150 Democrats Sign Letter Supporting Iran Deal
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 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.
List of signers in alphabetical order