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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