Though several Democratic senators told POLITICO they were offended by the missive authored by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), none of them said it would cause them to drop their support for bills to impose new sanctions on Iran or give Congress review power over a nuclear deal.
That presents another complication for the administration ahead of a rough deadline of March 24 to reach a nuclear agreement with the country.
“The letter’s incredibly unfortunate and inappropriate,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, a centrist Democrat who voted for the sanctions bill in committee and is a sponsor of the congressional approval legislation. “That doesn’t diminish my support for the legislation that we introduced.”
The president’s challenge in Congress on the issue isn’t limited to the 47 Republican senators who signed last week’s missive arguing that a nuclear agreement could be revoked by the next U.S. president. In a letter released Saturday, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough implored Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) not to push for a vote on his bill that would give Congress 60 days to reject or approve of any deal.
McDonough argued that Corker’s measure, which has nearly a dozen Democratic supporters, “goes well beyond ensuring that Congress has a role to play in any deal with Iran.” And he asked Corker, who’s sought to maintain a cordial relationship with the White House, to let the administration finish its negotiations with Iran, indicating it may take until the end of June. A framework is expected by the end of this month.
Corker shrugged off the request in response. And in an interview late last week, he said he hasn’t lost the support of any Democrats despite the turbulent atmosphere surrounding Iran politics.
“Let a couple days go by. We think there’s going to be really ignited momentum,” Corker, who did not sign the Cotton letter, said on Thursday. “Nobody’s dropping out. We’ve had reaffirmed commitment” from Democrats.
Indeed, a day after the controversy over Cotton’s letter erupted, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado co-sponsored Corker’s congressional review bill, the 11th Democrat to signal support.
Democrats in Congress still haven't figured out that running away from President Obama in 2010 and 2014 cost them the House and now Senate respectively. Instead of using Cotton's letter to rally the party and show a united front, Democrats are actively boasting about how they will stab the President in the back, even the ones not up for re-election in 2016, like Heitkamp.
Whatever. With Hillary, Jim Webb, Martin O'Malley, and even Liz Warren all pretending Obama was as hated in his last two years as Dubya, don't expect too much form the Dems in 2016 at this rate.