Yesterday, in the largest show of congressional support to date for the nuclear deal with Iran, 151 democratic Representatives sent a letter to the President supporting his efforts to reach a diplomatic agreement and encouraging him to “stay on course.” The letter was spearheaded by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), and David Price (D-NC), and it expresses clear support for the administration’s efforts to secure a final deal with Iran.
As negotiations have progressed since their official start in January 2014, Congress has been less than helpful. In fact, some member of Congress have made it clear that they would rather we bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities and risk what comes next than continue negotiating a diplomatic solution. This letter directly challenges that position, pointing out that “war itself will not make us safe.”
I think it is fair to say that the letter that Tom Cotton (R-AR) and 46 other Republican Senators sent to the leaders of Iran left a bad taste in most people’s mouths. Thankfully, this letter was well thought out and distinctly lacking in treasonous intentions. On the contrary, its intentions are to reassure negotiators (and the American and Iranian people) that the US can meet commitments made at the bargaining table. Thus the letter immediately strengthens the position of negotiators as they sprint towards the diplomatic finish line while it builds U.S. political support for a final agreement should one be reached.
The Corker-Cardin legislation which passed in the Senate yesterday sets up a process that allows Congress to vote up or down on the final agreement with Iran. This allows the deal’s opponents a relatively clear shot at passing a “Joint Resolution of Disapproval”. If enacted into law, the Resolution of Disapproval would prevent the President from waiving sanctions and thus torpedo the deal. The silver lining is that if such a disapproval vote passed the President would be able to veto it. And with just over 1/3 of the House signing onto this pro-diplomacy letter, the odds that the deal’s opponents could override a Presidential veto just went down.
Below are the letter and a list of representatives who signed the letter. Check if your representative’s name is there. If it is there, call them and thank them for supporting diplomacy. If it is not, then call them and tell them they should. The Capitol switchboard is 1-202-224-3121. The switchboard operator will connect you with the office you request.
Dear Mr. President:
As negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program continue, we urge you to stay on course, building on the recently announced political framework and continuing to work toward a strong and verifiable agreement between the P5+1 countries and Iran that will prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon. We commend you and your negotiating team, as well as our coalition partners, for the significant progress made thus far.
This issue is above politics. The stakes are too great, and the alternatives are too dire. We must exhaust every avenue toward a verifiable, enforceable, diplomatic solution in order to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. If the United States were to abandon negotiations or cause their collapse, not only would we fail to peacefully prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, we would make that outcome more likely. The multilateral sanctions regime that brought Iran to the table would likely collapse, and the Iranian regime would likely decide to accelerate its nuclear program, unrestricted and unmonitored. Such developments could lead us to war.
War itself will not make us safe. A U.S. or Israeli military strike may set back Iranian nuclear development by two or three years at best – a significantly shorter timespan than that covered by a P5+1 negotiated agreement. We must pursue diplomatic means to their fullest and allow the negotiations to run their course – especially now that the parties have announced a strong framework – and continue working to craft a robust and verifiable Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by June 30.
We must allow our negotiating team the space and time necessary to build on the progress made in the political framework and turn it into a long-term, verifiable agreement. If we do not succeed, Congress will remain at-the-ready to act and present you with additional options to ensure that Iran is prevented from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Thank you for your resolve in preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. We look forward to continuing our shared work on this important matter.
List of signers in alphabetical order