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 KerryKerry on Trump's Russia response: 'I don't buy his walk-back for one second' John Kerry: Trump 'surrendered lock, stock and barrel' to Putin's deceptions Get ready for summit with no agenda and calculated risks MORE, along with Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Mueller indicts 12 Russian officials for DNC hack | Trump does damage control after bombshell interview Pope to meet with oil execs to discuss climate change: report Rick Perry's travel cost Energy Department ,560 during first 7 months in office: report MORE -- who joined him during the marathon talks in Vienna -- and Treasury Secretary Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewOvernight Finance: US reaches deal with ZTE | Lawmakers look to block it | Trump blasts Macron, Trudeau ahead of G-7 | Mexico files WTO complaint Obama-era Treasury secretary: Tax law will make bipartisan deficit-reduction talks harder GOP Senate report says Obama officials gave Iran access to US financial system 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 CorkerSenate GOP attempts to wave Trump off second Putin summit Senate approves resolution warning Trump not to hand over US officials McConnell calls for Senate hearings on Russia sanctions 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) MenendezCNN anchors break into laughter over comedian's alleged prank call to Trump Comedian claims he tricked Trump while impersonating Dem senator Schumer: Obama 'very amenable' to helping Senate Dems in midterms 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 RubioSenate GOP attempts to wave Trump off second Putin summit GOP senator: We should accept Trump's 'apology' for Russian election interference comments Controversial Trump judicial nominee withdraws MORE (Fla.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP leader blocks resolution backing intelligence community on Russia Rand Paul blocks Sanders's Russia resolution, calls it 'crazy hatred' against Trump McCain: Trump plays into 'Putin's hands' by attacking Montenegro, questioning NATO obligations 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 McCainControversial Trump judicial nominee withdraws Trump vows to hold second meeting with Putin Ex-Montenegro leader fires back at Trump: ‘Strangest president' in history 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 MurphyDem senator ties Kavanaugh confirmation vote to Trump-Putin controversy Full interview: Chris Murphy speaks out on the Trump-Putin meeting and what it means Dem senator: NATO has become 'functionally obsolete' under Trump 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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