WASHINGTON — Forty-three Republican senators sent a letter to the White House Wednesday night warning President Obama not to bypass Congress as the administration nears the deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran.
Sens. Marco Rubio and Mark Kirk wrote the letter, which is signed by every Republican senator who co-sponsored Kirk's and Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez's Iran sanctions legislation. That bill, co-authored by Menendez and Kirk, was prevented from coming to a vote by Democratic leadership earlier this year. No Democratic senators signed this letter, which was obtained by BuzzFeed News on Wednesday evening. Sen. Mitch McConnell, who will become the Majority Leader of the new Congress, is among those who signed the letter.
The letter heralds the stiff opposition that Obama will face from the new Republican-majority Senate if his administration signs a deal with Iran next week that they consider bad. Major world powers are in Vienna this week negotiating with Iran to try to reach a deal that would stop the country from developing nuclear weapons. The administration has been looking for ways that it could bypass Congress if a deal is struck.
"We have watched with concern as your administration has hinted at 'creative solutions' that abandon the clear requirements of U.N. Security Council Resolutions, and shifted course away from essential requirements Congress has stressed in order to meet Iran's unreasonable demands," Rubio and Kirk write in the letter. "Your negotiators appear to have disregarded clear expressions from the Senate emphasizing the need for a multi-decade agreement requiring Iran to fully suspend its enrichment and reprocessing activities, to dismantle its illicit nuclear infrastructure, and completely disclose its past work on nuclear weaponization."
The letter mentions the Kirk-Menendez bill, which was supported by both Democrats and Republicans, seemingly as a message to the White House that the administration will face opposition from its own party, as well.
"The Senate enjoys a broad consensus for continuing to increase the pressure on Iran, as evidenced by the bipartisan support for the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 (S.1881)," the letter states.
The letter also includes a firm warning to Obama that the deal will not survive if the administration tries to circumvent Congress, echoing Sen. Lindsey Graham's recent promise that "If it is a bad deal, I will kill it."
"We urge your administration to cease efforts to circumvent Congress and work with us on a smarter approach that will decisively end Iran's nuclear threat," Rubio and Kirk write. "Unless the White House genuinely engages with Congress, we see no way that any agreement consisting of your administration's current proposals to Iran will endure in the 114th Congress and after your presidential term ends."