US Vice President Joe Biden.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
US Vice President Joe Biden unleashed a scathing attack against Congressional Republicans on Tuesday, accusing them of "undercutting" the Obama administration as it attempts to negotiate an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program.
"The letter sent on March 9th by forty-seven Republican Senators to the Islamic Republic of Iran, expressly designed to undercut a sitting President in the midst of sensitive international negotiations, is beneath the dignity of an institution I revere," Biden wrote.
The vice president, who is also the president of the Senate, echoed the sentiments expressed earlier by the White House, which accused Republicans of partisan interference in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, this after 47 caucus members sent a letter to Tehran warning of their intent to undermine any future multilateral agreement.
Opposed to the deal under discussion, which would temporarily cap, restrict, roll back and monitor Iran’s nuclear work, Senate Republicans informed Iran that such a deal would be a “mere executive agreement” without a vote of congressional approval.
“The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen,” reads the letter, written by Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), a junior senator, “and any future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest responded harshly, characterizing the letter as the “continuation of a partisan strategy to undermine the president’s authority.”
Republicans have “a long and sordid history” of choosing war over diplomacy, Earnest said.
"This letter, in the guise of a constitutional lesson, ignores two centuries of precedent and threatens to undermine the ability of any future American president, whether Democrat or Republican, to negotiate with other nations on behalf of the United States," Biden said. "Honorable people can disagree over policy. But this is no way to make America safer or stronger."
"In thirty-six years in the United States Senate, I cannot recall another instance in which senators wrote directly to advise another country - much less a longtime foreign adversary - that the President does not have the constitutional authority to reach a meaningful understanding with them," the vice president said.
"This letter sends a highly misleading signal to friend and foe alike that that our commander-in-chief cannot deliver on America’s commitments - a message that is as false as it is dangerous."
"The decision to undercut our president and circumvent our constitutional system offends me as a matter of principle," Biden said. "As a matter of policy, the letter and its authors have also offered no viable alternative to the diplomatic resolution with Iran that their letter seeks to undermine."
"There is no perfect solution to the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program," the vice president said. "However, a diplomatic solution that puts significant and verifiable constraints on Iran’s nuclear program represents the best, most sustainable chance to ensure that America, Israel, and the world will never be menaced by a nuclear-armed Iran. This letter is designed to convince Iran's leaders not to reach such an understanding with the United States."