Left Rallies to Defend White House Iran Policy

Left Rallies to Defend White House Iran PolicyLeft Rallies to Defend White House Iran Policy

Liberal Democrats have mounted an offensive to convince US Senate Democrats to oppose legislation the White House warns could kill a nuclear deal with Iran, the Hill reported on Thursday.

In moves that appeared coordinated, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced her opposition to a bill that would give the US Congress a vote on the emerging deal. Minutes later, Senator Barbara Boxer urged the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to postpone a planned vote next week.

“Diplomacy has taken us to a framework agreement founded on vigilance and enforcement, and these negotiations must be allowed to proceed unencumbered,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Senator (Bob) Corker’s legislation undermines these international negotiations and represents an unnecessary hurdle to achieving a strong, final agreement.”

The measure against Iran appeared close to gaining veto-proof support on Monday night after Democratic Senator Charles Schumer reiterated his support for the bill.

But now several of the bill’s Democratic co-sponsors will not say whether they’ll vote to approve it on Tuesday at a panel markup. They are demanding that Republicans tone down provisions opposed by the White House.

“The big question is what Corker will do,” one Democratic aide said. “If Democrats agree on amendments and Corker won’t go with them, it could be problematic in terms of getting broader Democratic support in committee.”  Senator Chris Coons, one of the bill’s eight Democratic co-sponsors and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, wants to remove language that would require the administration to certify that Iran no longer supports militia groups in the region.

  Open to Change

Senator Chris Murphy, another panel member, wants to change the legislation so that President Barack Obama could roll back sanctions without having to wait for Congress to review and approve the deal. Democratic aides have also floated a possible amendment that would shorten the mandated 60-day congressional review period. Senator Bill Nelson has said he wants unspecified changes to the bill.

“He’s intending to make some modifications that will be acceptable to the White House,” said an aide to the senator.

Adam Bozzi, a spokesman for Senator Michael Bennet, another Democratic co-sponsor, said Wednesday his boss is “open to changes.”

Neither Nelson nor Bennet sit on Foreign Relations, but they could seek changes on the floor or ask Senator Ben Cardin, the panel’s ranking Democrat, to push for amendments in committee.

Obama and senior White House officials have reached out to senators in recent days to sell the emerging deal with Iran and dissuade them from voting for any legislation that could undercut negotiations. Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, suggested to reporters on Wednesday that the US president hopes that senators can craft compromise language.

Obama told New York Times columnist Tom Friedman last Saturday he hopes “we can find something that allows Congress to express itself but does not encroach on traditional presidential prerogatives.”