American Lawmakers Write Another Letter on Iran

Bipartisan letter, signed by 360 lawmakers, will remind Obama that sanctions relief on Iran requires new legislation from Congress.

Elad Benari ,

Capitol Hill, Washington DC
Capitol Hill, Washington DC

A bipartisan letter on Iran signed by 360 members of Congress will be sent to President Barack Obama, one of its House signers said on Thursday, according to The Hill.

The letter, similar to the one 47 Senate Republicans recently sent to Tehran's leaders, reminds the administration that permanent sanctions relief on Iran as part of a deal to rollback its nuclear program would require new legislation from Congress.

It comes as international negotiators approach a March 24 deadline to reach a framework agreement.

"Should an agreement with Iran be reached, permanent sanctions relief from congressionally-mandated sanctions would require new legislation," the letter says, according to The Hill.

"In reviewing such an agreement, Congress must be convinced that its terms foreclose any pathway to a bomb, and only then will Congress be able to consider permanent sanctions relief," it adds.

The letter stops short of supporting legislation pursued by the Senate that would allow Congress 60 days to weigh in on any final deal before its implementation.

However, it adds, "We are prepared to evaluate any agreement to determine its long-term impact on the United States and our allies."

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), who announced the new letter, was quoted as having said he personally could wait until a deal was agreed to before backing congressional action on Iran, but warned the administration not to bypass Congress.

"There really cannot be any marginalization of Congress. Congress really needs to play a very active and vital role in this whole process, and any attempts to sidestep Congress will be resisted," he told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"We would hope that we could get a prompt response from the White House. It's truly a very bipartisan letter expressing Congress' strong feelings about things that need to be in the agreement," he said, according to The Hill.

Republicans came under fire from Obama and the Democrats last week because of the letter sent to Iran, warning its leaders that any nuclear deal signed with Obama would be void once he leaves office.

Responding to the letter, Obama said that “it's somewhat ironic to see some members for Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran. It's an unusual coalition.”

Vice President Joe Biden said the letter was "expressly designed to undercut a sitting president in the midst of sensitive international negotiations" and was "beneath the dignity" of the Senate.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said earlier this week that he would move forward next week on the Senate bill allowing Congress to approve or reject any nuclear agreement.

The White House has threatened to veto any legislation that is passed before the talks with Iran are scheduled to conclude on June 30.