More than one hundred members of the House of Representatives — Democrats and Republicans — have signed a letter supporting President Obama’s diplomatic approach to Iran’s nuclear program and urging their colleagues to avoid passing “bills or resolutions” that could jeopardize current talks with Tehran.
The push to pass more sanctions on Iran has stalled for now, but House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is reportedly working with Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) on text for a non-binding resolution outlining acceptable outcomes of any final agreement with Iran over its nuclear program (Hoyer backed off the resolution in December after pressure from Obama administration officials, other lawmakers and activists).
“At present,” the letter reads, “we believe that Congress must give diplomacy a chance. A bill or resolution that risks fracturing our international coalition or, worse yet, undermining our credibility in future negotiations and jeopardizing hard-won progress toward a verifiable final agreement, must be avoided.”
The letter had around 70 signatories when it was first reported to be circulating among House members earlier this month. But now, the final letter to the President has 104 signatures, including from 4 Republicans, clearly providing a boost to the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts.
Reps. David Price (D-NC) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) spearheaded the effort. “I believe that we must take advantage of the opportunity before us to pursue a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to Iran’s nuclear program, and that we must resist calls by some in Congress to prematurely enact a bill or resolution that risks inadvertently derailing or impeding our ongoing negotiations,” Price said in a statement.
“While difficult and uncertain, diplomacy represents our best hope to prevent nuclear weapons in Iran and ensure the safety of our families and others around the world. Congress should not undermine diplomacy by giving the Iranian hardliners an excuse to scuttle the negotiations. So many of our colleagues have expressed their determination for diplomacy, and so many more share the same view,” Doggett said.
With the new sanctions bill “on ice” and the interim deal currently solidified and taking effect (with a freeze on Iran’s nuclear program and more inspections), the congressional debate now appears to be looking toward the final nuclear agreement with Iran.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) said this week that those who say that Iran should dismantle its nuclear infrastructure and permanently end its uranium enrichment program as part of the final deal, aren’t being realistic. “I don’t believe that there is a deal that Iran can agree to that will completely zero out their program,” he said. “So I think that anyone who insists on that provision basically is insisting that there not be a final deal.”