President Obama got a huge win today as ten Democratic senators have vowed to vote against the Iran sanctions bill being pushed by Republicans in order to give the president more time to negotiate a nuclear agreement with Iran.
United States Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Coons (D-DE), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) all signed a letter to the president expressing their support:
Dear Mr. President:
We remain hopeful that diplomacy will succeed in reversing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon capability, in accordance with the timeline that the P5+1 and Iran negotiating teams have set for themselves: March 24, 2015 for a political framework agreement and June 30, 2015 to conclude negotiations on the technical annexes of the comprehensive deal.
Congress has always been a partner in the shared goal of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon capability. We remain appreciative of your leadership in seeking to protect the United States, and our allies and partners, from the threat of a nuclear Iran. For more than two decades, the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. Government have worked together in a bipartisan way to implement sanctions legislation that successfully ratcheted up pressure on Iran’s nuclear program. This pressure proved to be decisive in compelling Iranian leadership to enter the latest round of nuclear negotiations in September 2013.
We remain deeply skeptical that Iran is committed to making the concessions required to demonstrate to the world that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful by March 24 – the deadline agreed upon for a political framework agreement. Considering Iran’s history in nuclear negotiations and after two extensions of the Joint Plan of Action, we are concerned that Iran is intentionally extending the negotiations to improve its leverage at the negotiating table.
We are Democratic supporters of the Iran Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2015 – a bill that would impose sanctions on Iran only if Iran fails to reach a comprehensive agreement by the June 30 deadline. This bill also includes monthly waivers after June 30 to provide additional negotiating flexibility. We believe that this bill, as introduced, is reasonable and pragmatic, respects the nuclear negotiating timeline, and sends a strong signal to Iran and to the international community that endless negotiations under the interim agreement are dangerous, unacceptable, and could leave Iran with a threshold nuclear weapon capability.
In acknowledgement of your concern regarding congressional action on legislation at this moment, we will not vote for this legislation on the Senate floor before March 24. After March 24, we will only vote for this legislation on the Senate floor if Iran fails to reach agreement on a political framework that addresses all parameters of a comprehensive agreement. This deadline is the critical test of Iranian intentions. We expect that your Administration will consult closely with Members of Congress in the coming months, and look forward to working with you to achieve our shared goal of reversing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon capability.
The collapse in Democratic support came after President Obama promised to veto the sanctions bill, and Republicans insulted the president by inviting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress without consulting the White House. Boehner tried to force Democrats to choose between Netanyahu and Obama, and the Democrats have chosen their president. Another Republican attempt to divide Democrats has failed and the latest congressional attempt to undermine this president has fallen apart.
Republicans in both the House and Senate have made such a big production out of the Iran sanctions bill that they have little choice, but to vote on the legislation that now has no chance of passing the Senate. The Republican attempt to destroy the talks with Iran represents a dangerous meddling in foreign policy for domestic political gain. Senate Democrats aren’t going to be pawns in the Republican Party’s efforts to humiliate this president.
Democrats have the president’s back, as the Republican dreams of dividing and conquering are turning into the reality of a party united behind their president.