House writes its own Iran letter, but to Obama

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A bipartisan letter on Iran signed by 360 members of Congress will be sent to President Obama on Thursday, one of its House signers said. 

The letter, like one 47 Senate Republicans sent to Tehran's leaders, reminds the administration that permanent sanctions relief on Iran as part of a deal to rollback its nuclear program would require new legislation from Congress. 

It comes as international negotiators approach a March 24 deadline to reach a framework agreement.

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"Should an agreement with Iran be reached, permanent sanctions relief from congressionally-mandated sanctions would require new legislation," the letter says.

"In reviewing such an agreement, Congress must be convinced that its terms foreclose any pathway to a bomb, and only then will Congress be able to consider permanent sanctions relief," it adds. 

The letter stops short of supporting legislation pursued by the Senate that would allow Congress 60 days to weigh in on any final deal before its implementation. 

However, it adds, "We are prepared to evaluate any agreement to determine its long-term impact on the United States and our allies." 

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said earlier this week that he would move forward next week on the Senate bill, co-authored with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), ranking member of the committee. 

The letter, signed by a majority of Republicans and Democrats in the House, comes after Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and 46 other Republicans sent a letter to Iran warning it that any deal might not last after Obama leaves office. 

The White House has threatened to veto any legislation that is passed before the talks with Iran are scheduled to conclude on June 30. 

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who announced the new letter, said he personally could wait until a deal was agreed to before backing congressional action on Iran, but warned the administration not to bypass Congress. 

"There really cannot be any marginalization of Congress. Congress really needs to play a very active and vital role in this whole process, and any attempts to sidestep Congress will be resisted," Engel said Thursday morning at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. 

"We would hope that we could get a prompt response from the White House. It's truly a very bipartisan letter expressing Congress' strong feelings about things that need to be in the agreement," he said.