Iran Deal Pits Obama Against Both Democrats and Republicans

Members of Congress vow to pass their own Iran sanctions when Senators return in December.

Secretary of State John Kerry testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill Nov. 21, 2013, in Washington, D.C.

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The Obama administration hardly had a chance to take a victory lap after reaching a historic deal with Iran Saturday before lawmakers on Capitol Hill started publicly airing their grievances.

Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. will ease Iranian sanctions over a six-month period while Iran agrees to curtail its nuclear weapons program. During that time frame, the U.S. and Iran will continue negotiating a more specific and long-term deal.

Many in Congress blasted President Barack Obama for curbing sanctions without a promise from Iran that it would stop its nuclear weapons build up immediately. Even some of the president's strongest allies on Capitol Hill are signaling their frustration.

"I am disappointed by the terms of the agreement," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement. "It was strong sanctions, not the goodness of the hearts of the Iranian leaders, that brought Iran to the table, and any reduction relieves the psychological pressure of future sanctions and gives them hope that they will be able to gain nuclear weapon capability while further sanctions are reduced."

[WALSH: Obama Seals Much-Needed Win With Iran Deal]

 

Secretary of State John Kerry, a former Massachusetts senator and fixture on Capitol Hill, will have to convince his once-colleagues the negotiation brokered will strengthen the country's hand.

"I believe Congress will recognize that this deal actually has a great deal of benefit in it," Kerry said Sunday during an appearance on ABC.

Kerry, however, will be lobbying an entrenched Congress that has already announced it is bound and determined to bolster Iranian sanctions without the administration's blessing.

Schumer said Sunday the "disproportionality" of the deal makes it "more likely" Democrats and Republicans will return after the Thanksgiving recess and pass additional sanctions as part of the Pentagon's annual spending bill. Thursday, 15 lawmakers including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, signed a joint statement calling for stronger sanctions.

Also on Thursday, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee introduced legislation that keeps Iran in the crosshairs of Congress. His legislation would require Iran to hold up its end of the bargain for six months before Obama is allowed to eradicate additional sanctions.

[READ: Dianne Feinstein on Stronger Iran Sanctions: 'If You Want a War, That Is the Thing To Do']

"I think it's now time for Congress to weigh in because I think people are very concerned that the interim deal becomes the norm, and that's why I've crafted legislation to hold the administration and the international community's feet to the fire over the next six months," Corker said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. "I think we all greet it with skepticism."

In the Republican-controlled House, leaders are even more dubious of the U.S. and Iranian deal.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., accused the Obama administration of negotiating a bad "deal for the sake of a deal."

"We have rewarded very bad and dangerous behavior," he said during an appearance on CNN Sunday.

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