Republicans: Nuclear Deal Won’t Last After Obama

Republicans: Nuclear Deal Won’t Last After Obama  Republicans: Nuclear Deal Won’t Last After Obama

A group of 47 Republican US senators has written an open letter to Iran's officials saying any nuclear deal they sign with President Barack Obama's administration will not last after he leaves office.

Organized by freshman Senator Tom Cotton and signed by the chamber's entire party leadership as well as potential 2016 presidential contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, the letter is meant not just to discourage the Iranian government from signing a deal but also to pressure the White House into giving Congress some authority over the process, Bloomberg reported on Sunday.

"It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system … Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement," the senators wrote. "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."

Arms-control advocates and supporters of the negotiations argue that the next president and the next Congress will have a hard time changing or canceling any Iran deal especially if it is working reasonably well.

 Executive Agreement

Many inside the Republican caucus, however, hope that by pointing out the long-term fragility of a deal with no congressional approval, the Iranian government might be convinced to think twice. "Iran's (officials) need to know before agreeing to any nuclear deal that … any unilateral executive agreement is one they accept at their own peril," Cotton told Bloomberg.

The issue has already become part of the 2016 GOP campaign. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush came out against the negotiations in a speech at the Chicago Council last month. Former Texas governor Rick Perry released a video criticizing the negotiations and calling for congressional oversight. "An arms control agreement that excludes our Congress, damages our security and endangers our allies has to be reconsidered by any future president," Perry said.

Iran denies the allegation that it may be seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability under the guise of a civilian program, saying the work is only for peaceful purposes.  

The letter is the latest piece of an effort by senators in both parties to ensure that Congress will have some say if and when a deal is signed. Senators Bob Corker, Lindsey Graham, Tim Kaine and Bob Menendez have a bill pending that would mandate a congressional review of the Iran deal, but Republicans and Democrats have been bickering over how to proceed in the face of a threatened presidential veto.

Still, Senators from both parties are united in an insistence that, at some point, the administration will need their buy-in for any nuclear deal with Iran to succeed. There's no sign yet that Obama believes this -- or, if he does, that he plans to engage Congress.

 Congressional Role  

Meanwhile, Republican Senator Roger Wicker said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that Obama should not strike a deal over Iran's nuclear capabilities without the Senate's input first.

"This is not just a deal between the president of the United States and the leader of Iran," Wicker told "The Cats Roundtable" host John Catsimatidis on AM 970 in New York, the Hill reported. "This is a deal that has to be ratified by the United States Senate."

Wicker urged Democrats to help pressure Obama for a congressional role in the diplomatic talks. He is skeptical, however, that support for the measure will be bipartisan.

"What I've seen is that from time to time our Democratic friends across the aisle make the right statements," Wicker said. "But when it comes to actually helping us with a vote it's hard to find them there."

Wicker said Senators Chuck Schumer and Bob Menendez were potential allies on the push. Schumer said earlier this month he "didn't trust" Iran's negotiators. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said his chamber would hold a procedural vote on Wednesday on Wicker's suggestion. It would prevent Obama from lifting sanctions on Iran without congressional review of a potential deal.

The Obama administration is trying to meet self-imposed deadlines for an agreement with Tehran. It should reach a political understating until the end of this month and a final deal by June 30.