GOP Letter to Iran Appears to be Backfiring
Led by freshman Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), 47 Republicans used the letter to inform Iran’s leaders that such an agreement would be “nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei.” They said the “next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”
Conspicuously absent among signatories to the letter is Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, who says he’s working to build a veto-proof majority for his legislation restricting President Barack Obama’s negotiating options with Iran and ensuring congressional approval before any deal is struck. He hinted that the Cotton letter wouldn’t help advance the cause.
“I knew it was going to be only Republicans on [the letter]. I just don’t view that as where I need to be today,” Corker told Politico. “My goal is to get 67 or more people on something that will affect the outcome.”
Corker needs 13 Democrats to reach a veto-proof 67 votes, and the letter hasn’t earned him any favors. Senate Democrats are rallying to Obama’s side and attacking the Republicans for what they describe as an extraordinary act of openly undercutting a president during sensitive foreign policy negotiations.
The gambit is earning attention well outside traditional foreign policy circles. As of Tuesday morning, the hashtag #47Traitors was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter in the United States.
Cotton is unfazed by the criticism. He stood by his letter in appearances Monday on CNN and Tuesday on MSNBC, saying that he wants Iran to dismantle its nuclear program “forever” — not for the 10 or 15 years that reportedly make up the duration of the deal that the Obama administration is closing in on.
“The point we’re making to Iran’s leaders, who, if you talk to many of the Iran experts, will say don’t understand our Constitution, is that if Congress doesn’t approve a deal, Congress won’t accept a deal,” Cotton said on MSNBC. “Now or in the future.”