The PJ Tatler

Reid: GOP Letter to Ayatollahs Won't Discourage Dems from Backing Iran Deal Approval Bill

Despite his fury at 47 Senate Republicans for issuing an open letter to the leaders of Iran about Congress’ role in nuclear negotiations, Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters today that he doesn’t expect it to make Democratic supporters back down from a bill about congressional consent.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act a week and a half ago along with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). The bill mandates that the president submit the text of any nuclear agreement with Iran to Congress and prohibits the administration from suspending congressional sanctions for 60 days. During that period, Congress would have the opportunity to hold hearings and approve, disapprove or take no action on the agreement.

Both the Kirk-Menendez sanctions and the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act are strongly bipartisan and likely to receive veto-proof majorities. Menendez has been absolutely critical to rallying Dem support, and the White House strongly dislikes both pieces of legislation.

Co-sponsors on the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act include Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Angus King (I-Maine), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

The letter from some GOPs to the government of Iran, Reid said, was so “that they know how the American government works, and they know this letter is meaningless. That’s how I feel about the letter myself.”

Asked specifically after the closed caucus luncheon if it would “discourage” Democrats from supporting the Corker-Menendez bill, Reid replied, “No.”

Reid acknowledged that he was interviewed about a year ago in the Justice Department investigation of Menendez.

“I try very carefully to not deal in hypotheticals. Let’s wait and see what happens before we start speculating on what should happen if something happens,” Reid said. “Let’s wait until we have some real facts before us.”

“…Senator Menendez has done a stellar job as chair of the committee, and as far as I am concerned, he’s been an outstanding senator.”

Republicans have suggested that the timing of the leak about impending Justice Department charges is too coincidental of a hit against the administration’s No. 1 Dem critic of Iran nuclear negotiations.

Menendez has vowed to press forward with his Iran bills, which he wants to come up for a vote after the administration’s framework deadline in two weeks.

On Sunday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told NBC that her “heart fell” when she heard the news.

“I don’t wish this upon any senator. And particularly somebody that has pulled himself up by his bootstraps and reached a real kind of pinnacle in the Senate,” Feinstein said. “So I just wish him well. I don’t know what the facts are. I hope he can, as they say in the jargon, beat it.”