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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Leading Democratic Lawmakers Condemn GOP Letter to Iran

March 17, 2015
Press Release


Leading Democratic Lawmakers Condemn GOP Letter to Iran


Waters leads coalition expressing "concern and disappointment" with Senators' interference in international negotiations


WASHINGTON – Yesterday, five leading Democratic lawmakers publically condemned the actions of 47 Republican Senators for taking foreign policy into their own hands by intervening in ongoing nuclear proliferation talks between the United States and the Iranian government.


In a letter to Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Financial Services, was joined by Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN), John Conyers (D-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Keith Ellison (D-MN), in expressing their "immense concern and profound disappointment" with Senator Tom Cotton's (R-AR) letter to Iranian leadership, which was signed by 46 other Republican Senators, including the Majority Leader himself.


Senator Cotton's letter has drawn bipartisan and international criticism as a clear and unabashed attempt to undermine President Obama's foreign policy. Several Republican Senators, including Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, refused to sign onto the letter. Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier described the Republican letter as "not helpful."


"Senator Cotton's letter represents yet another example of Congressional Republicans' penchant for political theatre over serious governing," said Rep. Maxine Waters. "I was appalled to learn that a majority of Senate Republicans signed onto the letter, including the Majority Leader. This letter is nothing more than a political stunt, and these Senators should be ashamed of this blatant attempt to sabotage American foreign policy. For more than two centuries, politics has stopped at our nation's shores. I'm saddened Republicans have abandoned that philosophy."


The Representatives reiterated their commitment to stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and expressed disappointment in the Republicans' attempt to damage a potential international agreement that could prevent Iran from obtaining such weapons and make the United States and our allies safer.



The full text of the letter can be seen below and found online here:





March 16, 2015



Dear Senator McConnell:


We write to you and Members of the Senate Republican Leadership with immense concern and profound disappointment in yet another action that appears politically motivated to subvert the Obama Administration's international diplomacy. Senator Tom Cotton's effort to undermine the credibility of our ongoing negotiations with Iran and United States allies not only disrespects the office of the President, but it diminishes confidence among our global allies in the United States' capacity to enter into binding commitments with other nations and promote international peace and stability. We are further disheartened to know that 47 Republican Senators joined in this partisan ploy by signing onto the letter. As legislators who swore an oath to protect the United States, we cannot afford to play politics with the security of our nation and allies.


Senator Cotton's letter was a disservice to his constituents and disgraces the institution in which he serves. We wholeheartedly agree with Vice President Biden's sentiment that the letter to Iranian leadership is "beneath the dignity" of the U.S. Senate. A majority of the Senate Republicans signed a document that is nothing more than a shortsighted attempt to undermine President Obama's meaningful and important steps towards stabilizing the region and halting nuclear weapons development in Iran.  Furthermore, executive agreements, such as the agreement pursued by the current Administration with Iran, are a well-established tool used by countless presidents, both Republican and Democratic, to carry out international diplomacy with many nations, including Iran.  Historical agreements like the Nuclear Suppliers Group Agreement under President Ford (1975), the Australia Group under President Reagan (1985), and the Proliferation Security Initiative under President Bush (2003) highlight how the President's power to negotiate executive agreements can prevent the proliferation of nuclear and biological weapons.  Negotiators of these agreements were not subjected to Congressional attempts to obstruct them by introducing a resolution of disapproval or up-or-down vote, or by sending a warning letter incentivizing parties to walk away from the negotiating table.


While President Obama is negotiating a peaceful solution to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and protect our closest allies around the world, you and your colleagues in the Senate have done little more than exacerbate partisan divisions. We stand with President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in denouncing this letter as an unprecedented breach of protocol and a violation of the basic principles of American foreign policy.  Partisan politics must stop at our nation's shores. Even our allies in Europe have labeled the Republican letter counterproductive. Additionally, the threats made by Senator Cotton and his colleagues could have significant consequences for our nation's diplomatic credibility. Retreating on an executive agreement once it has been reached would jeopardize our nation's ability to ensure that previous agreements stand, while also substantially crippling future endeavors. In the same vein, the Senators' actions implicitly condone countries, allies and foes, withdrawing from any agreement aimed at ensuring U.S. national security when political differences arise within their countries or their administrations change.


It is unfortunate that Senate Republicans have decided to sabotage United States foreign policy despite the fact that we all share the same goal – preventing a nuclear Iran. President Obama has been abundantly clear that the administration and our international allies will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and technology. Securing our nation's safety and the protection of our allies has always been and will always be our top priority. It is only through bipartisan and united efforts, built upon trust, that we can ensure the security of the United States.