White House Snubs Some Senior Lawmakers on Iran Negotiation Details

“My invite was lost in the mail,” said Sen. John McCain.

McCain: Balks at "baked in" overruns.
National Journal
Clara Ritger
July 20, 2014, 5:10 p.m.

Law­makers are miffed about not get­ting a seat in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s brief­ings on the Ir­an nuc­le­ar talks.

Some mem­bers of the Sen­ate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, which has jur­is­dic­tion over mat­ters of in­ter­na­tion­al nuc­le­ar en­ergy, said they were not giv­en any up­dates about the status of the nuc­le­ar ne­go­ti­ations with Ir­an, which were ex­ten­ded Fri­day to Nov. 24.

“They don’t con­sult us,” said Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Marco Ru­bio of Flor­ida. “They’ve shown no in­terest in in­volving the con­gres­sion­al branch with any sort of in­put with re­gard to what the ul­ti­mate deal is go­ing to be.”

Ex­cept that some mem­bers of Con­gress are get­ting in­vited to of­fer in­put, and it’s not just lead­er­ship.

“The White House called me yes­ter­day and said there was go­ing to be a brief­ing today,” said Demo­crat­ic Sen. Ben Cardin of Mary­land.

Cali­for­nia Demo­crat Bar­bara Box­er and For­eign Re­la­tions Chair­man Robert Men­en­dez of New Jer­sey also said they were get­ting briefed on the situ­ation.

Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Bob Cork­er of Ten­ness­ee, the com­mit­tee’s rank­ing mem­ber, said the White House per­son­ally ex­ten­ded him an in­vit­a­tion to Thursday’s brief­ing on the Ir­an ne­go­ti­ations.

“My in­vite was lost in the mail,” said Re­pub­lic­an Sen. John Mc­Cain of Ari­zona. “I think that the Con­gress should ap­prove or dis­ap­prove of something that is of this sig­ni­fic­ance.”

An­oth­er mem­ber of the For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, Re­pub­lic­an Sen. James Risch of Idaho, said he wasn’t aware of any mem­bers of Con­gress that have been in­cluded on the de­tails, but said that they should be.

“We in Con­gress have re­ques­ted that the pres­id­ent not do any­thing uni­lat­er­ally without con­sult­ing Con­gress,” Risch said. “I was not happy with the deal they cut last time.”

Earli­er this month, 344 mem­bers of the House sent a let­ter to the pres­id­ent re­quest­ing that he con­sult Con­gress on a fi­nal deal. The let­ter also said that any sanc­tions re­lief that might come after the Ju­ly 20 dead­line would have to be ap­proved by Con­gress.

House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ed Royce of Cali­for­nia and rank­ing mem­ber Eli­ot En­gel were the lead sig­nat­or­ies on the let­ter, and it ap­pears it had some im­pact.

“We were con­sul­ted nu­mer­ous times this week,” En­gel said. “I’m reas­on­ably sat­is­fied that he’s reach­ing out.”

While the New York Demo­crat felt that ul­ti­mately Pres­id­ent Obama should be reach­ing out to all law­makers, he said the pres­id­ent was mak­ing “a good faith ef­fort” by start­ing with lead­er­ship, com­mit­tee chairs, and some of the Jew­ish mem­bers of Con­gress.

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