Week ahead: Obama officials work to sell Iran deal

Top administration officials are headed to Capitol Hill to sell lawmakers on the Iran nuclear deal.

Republicans have already skewered the agreement that lifts sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on Tehran's nuclear program, arguing that the Obama administration and Western powers made too many concessions.

Many Democrats remain deeply skeptical about the deal and remain on the fence, despite a pair of closed-door meetings with Vice President Biden.

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But the administration is keeping up the push. On Wednesday, Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryLobbying world Kerry: Trump not pursuing 'smart' or 'clever' plan on North Korea Tillerson will not send high-ranking delegation to India with Ivanka Trump: report MORE, along with Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizStop wasting tax dollars on failing nuclear projects Trump vows hard line with Iran, setting stage to decertify deal Renewing America’s commitment to nuclear energy MORE -- who joined him during the marathon talks in Vienna -- and Treasury Secretary Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewSenator demands answers from DOJ on Russia bribery probe Koskinen's role in the ObamaCare bailout another reason Trump must terminate him The debt limit is the nation's appendix — get rid of it MORE will provide a closed-door briefing for all House members.

And on Thursday, Kerry, Moniz and Lew will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the accord. Lew will likely face tough questions about the sanctions relief Iran will receive.

Foreign Relations Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerFormer Dem Tenn. gov to launch Senate bid: report McConnell 'almost certain' GOP will pass tax reform Former New Mexico gov: Trump's foreign policy is getting 'criticized by everybody' MORE (R-Tenn.) has said he would withhold judgment on the deal until he reviews it, but that his analysis will "begin with skepticism."

Lawmakers have a 60-day review period after which they can vote to approve or disapprove the deal. But with President Obama threatening a veto of any measure that blocks the deal, critics need to muster two-thirds support in each chamber.

With most Republicans leaning against the deal, the White House must shore up Democratic support.

The Cabinet officials are sure to get an earful from Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate ethics panel resumes Menendez probe after judge declares mistrial Judge declares mistrial in Menendez bribery case Menendez jury deadlocked, ordered to keep trying MORE (D-N.J.), who has voiced strong concerns about the bill and has opposed the administration on its Cuba policy. Also on the panel are two GOP presidential hopefuls, Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRyan pledges 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Richard Gere welcomes lawmakers' words of support for Tibet Dem lawmaker gives McConnell's tax reform op-ed a failing grade MORE (Fla.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulLexington mayor launches bid for Congress Trump-free Kennedy Center Honors avoids politics Meet the Iran hawk who could be Trump's next secretary of State MORE (Ky.).

Iran isn't the only big item on lawmakers' agenda.

Members of the House and Senate Armed Services panels remain neck-deep in negotiations over the fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat Meghan McCain knocks Bannon: 'Who the hell are you' to criticize Romney? Dems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress MORE (R-Ariz.) recently surprised many when he said the massive policy bill would be done in the coming week. Aides later walked back that statement, but signaled the measure -- which Obama has threatened to veto -- could be released soon.

On Tuesday, McCain's panel will break from talks to consider Gen. Mark Milley's nomination to be the next Army Chief of Staff. He would replace Gen. Ray Odierno, who completes his tenure in September.

On Wednesday, the House Veterans' Affairs Committee will convene to hear from VA Secretary Robert McDonald about the agency's estimated $3 billion budget shortfall.

Department officials have warned lawmakers to give "flexibility" to move funds around or risk shutting down VA hospitals in August.

Off Capitol Hill, Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyAvalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Senate passes tax overhaul, securing major GOP victory Dem senator compares GOP tax bill to unicorns, Tupac conspiracy theories MORE (D-Conn.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, will speak at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Wednesday about the Iran deal.

 

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