The White House delivered a fresh warning to the Senate late Saturday to stay out of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, asserting that pending legislation would likely have a “profoundly negative impact” on the ongoing talks.
President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, told Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker in a letter that legislation sponsored by the Tennessee Republican would go far beyond ensuring a role for Congress in any deal with Iran.
“Instead, the legislation would potentially prevent any deal from succeeding by suggesting that Congress must vote to ‘approve’ any deal,” McDonough said. He criticized a provision that would eliminate Obama’s authority to lift some sanctions on Iran as part of any agreement.
The talks are to resume Sunday in Switzerland, with the U.S. and other world powers facing an end-of-March deadline to reach a framework deal.
“The administration’s request to Congress is simple: Let us complete the negotiations before the Congress acts on legislation,” McDonough said, adding that he does expect a robust congressional debate if a final deal is struck by the end of June.
McDonough reiterated Obama’s repeated threats to veto the legislation should Congress pass it.