Last Saturday night, the White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough addressed a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), warning the senators to hold back on the legislation that would give Congress the right to vote over the final nuclear agreement on Iranian nuclear program.
If Corker’s Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 becomes a law, writes McDonough, it would “likely have a profoundly negative impact on the ongoing negotiations—emboldening Iranian hard-liners, inviting a counter-productive response from the Iranian majiles; differentiating the U.S. position from our allies in negotiations; potentially making it impossible to secure international cooperation for additional sanctions, while putting at risk the existing multilateral sanctions regime.”
While McDonough assures the Senate they would play a role in the final agreement, he clearly states that this should come later in the decision-making procedure. He calls on the Congress to let the White House complete the negotiations before acting on legislation. As McDonough explains in the letter, this legislation would “set a potentially damaging precedent for constraining future presidents of either party from pursuing the conduct of essential diplomatic negotiations”, including non-binding agreements that are the corn-stone of international diplomacy and have not required congressional approval in the past.
Sen. Tom Cotton’s draft of a note addressed to Iranian leadership in which he states that both the Congress and the future president hold the power of reworking any agreement signed by the current government; Croker’s bill initiative and McDonough’s response denote the rising tension of the domestic political debate on Iranian nuclear development program.