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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Backfired: Lawmakers sour on Iran letter

A number of senators on both sides of the aisle are souring on the open letter 47 Republicans sent condemning the nuclear negotiations with Iran. 
“It was ill-advised. It was sophomoric in many ways and I think it gave comfort to our enemies and pause to our allies,” Democratic Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer said on Wednesday’s “Morning Joe.”
“We’re in the last throws of negotiations and 47 senators interject themselves into this in a totally inappropriate, unprecedented way,” he said.

US unity on Iran shattered by Sen. Tom Cotton's 'open letter'

Hoyer joins a growing number of lawmakers who have spoken ill of the letter on both sides of the aisle.
Many Republicans said they didn’t feel the letter was helpful.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain said on Tuesday night he wasn’t sure it was the best way to handle the situation.
“Maybe that wasn’t the best way to do that, but I think the Iranians should know that the Congress of the United States has to play a role in whether an agreement of this magnitude,” he said of the letter.
MORNING JOE, 3/11/15, 7:47 AM ET

Steny Hoyer: GOP letter 'ill-advised'

Republican Sen. Bob Corker, chair of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee pushed back against the letter in an interview with The Daily Beast.
“I didn’t think it was going to further our efforts to get to a place where Congress would play the appropriate role that it should on Iran,” he said. “I did not think that the letter was something that was going to help get us to an outcome that we’re all seeking, and that is Congress playing that appropriate role.”
Arizona’s Sen. Jeff Flake echoed that sentiment. “I just didn’t feel that it was appropriate or productive at this point. These are tough enough negotiations as it stands, and introducing this kind of letter, I didn’t think would be helpful,” he said.
New York’s Rep. Peter King, a hawkish Republican, said Tuesday he didn’t “know if I would have signed the letter. I don’t trust the president on this, quite frankly, though I don’t know if I’d go public with it to a foreign government,” he said.
Democrats were furious, arguing that it undermined the president and hurt the negotiations.
“The judgment of my Republican colleagues seems to be clouded by their abhorrence of President Obama,” Senate Minority leader Harry Reid said. “It’s unprecedented for one political party to directly intervene in an international negotiation with the sole goal of embarrassing the president of the United States.”
“I think Republicans have made it harder for us to approach this in a careful and bipartisan way,” Virginia Democrat Sen. Tim Kaine said, according to The New York Times who also quoted Michigan’s Sen. Debbie Stabenow, whose voice audibly shook with rage, saying that she opposed the the war in Iraq but “I never would have sent a letter to Saddam Hussein.”
The letter’s champion, freshman Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, says he’s not undermining the president—he’s simply opposing Iran.
“This is about stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. And Iran ‘s leaders need to understand that any deal that gives them a path to a bomb today, tomorrow, 10 years, 15 years from now, will not be accepted by the United States Congress,” Cotton said on Tuesday’s “Morning Joe.”

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