White House Moves to Limit Support for Iran Bill

White House Moves to Limit Support for Iran BillWhite House Moves to Limit Support for Iran Bill

The White House is moving to limit Democratic defections on Capitol Hill that could undermine its negotiations with Iran, dispatching senior officials and President Barack Obama himself to lobby senators against taking action before a nuclear deal with Tehran is reached.

Senior administration officials have asked Senate Democrats to notify the White House if they are considering signing onto a bill drafted by Sens. Bob Corker and Robert Menendez that would give the US Congress the ability to accept or reject any nuclear deal.

The push, several Senate sources said, is to prevent a veto-proof majority from building by heading off any fresh Democratic support for the plan and persuade supporters to keep their powder dry until the conclusion of multilateral negotiations with Iran, Politico reported on Tuesday.

The lobbying effort has come from all quarters. Obama has spoken directly with Democratic senators on the Foreign Relations Committee, including Ben Cardin of Maryland. Other senators who are weighing whether to join the legislative effort, such as Joe Manchin of West Virginia, have been briefed by the likes of Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations. Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew have reached out directly to senators, according to sources on Capitol Hill.

And the White House chief of staff, Denis McDonough, warned lawmakers bluntly in a Saturday night letter not to interfere before a tentative deal is reached this month and the final terms are inked in late June.

All told, senators said, it amounted to a White House moving with dispatch to limit Democratic dissension in the face of a growing opposition to an Iran deal from Congress.