In the latest in the battle of dueling endorsements, 75 former members of the House of Representatives and Senate are urging the current Congress to support a nuclear deal with Iran forged by the Obama administration and five world powers.
In a letter sent Monday to current lawmakers, the ex-House and Senate members said “We believe that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that the United States and our P5+1 partners negotiated with the government of Iran is the most viable means to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and protect the security of the United States, Israel and other allies.”
The letter adds that the deal “closes Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon while providing unprecedented international inspections of all aspects of Iran’s nuclear program.”
The former lawmakers tell the current Congress that “We know of no viable alternatives to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that is now before you.”
“We agree that no deal is better than a bad deal,” they write. “But we also agree that a good deal is better than no deal.”
Of the 75 ex-lawmakers who signed the letter, 71 are Democrats and four are Republicans. Former Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Carl Levin, D-Mich., who chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee, are among the signees.
We appreciate the gravity of your decision and the considerable pressure that you are under as you weigh the merits of this agreement and then exercising your oversight role through the robust monitoring and evaluation of its implemention.
Letter from 75 ex-members of Congress.
Their letter follows a letter to Congress last week signed by 200 retired high-ranking former military officials who reject the nuclear deal with the Tehran government.
“Removing sanctions on Iran and releasing billions of dollars to its regime over the next ten years is inimical to the security of Israel and the Middle East,” their letter said. “
Congress must vote on the deal by Sept. 17. The House is expected to begin debate on a Republican-crafted resolution of disapproval of the deal when it returns from its summer recess next week.
In the Senate, opponents of the deal must overcome a 60-vote threshold to move a disapproval measure forward. If they succeed, then senators could hold a simple majority-rules vote on the measure.
If Congress passes a disapproval resolution, President Barack Obama will likely veto it. Congressional foes of the nuclear deal would then need to muster 34 Senate votes and the 146 House votes to override Obama’s veto. Overriding a veto requires two-thirds votes in both chambers.
But White House officials and Senate Democratic leaders are growing optimistic that a disapproval resolution might not reach Obama’s desk. On Sunday, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon became the 31st Senate Democrat to support the nuclear deal.
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., is scheduled to announce his stance on the deal Tuesday afternoon at the University of Delaware. Only two Senate Democrats – Charles Schumer of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey – have come out against the deal.