By Rebecca Shabad - 02/04/14 06:58 AM EST
More than 70 House Democrats have signed a letter to President Obama supporting the administration’s diplomatic efforts to weaken Iran’s nuclear program.
The lawmakers write that they understand skepticism over the six-month interim deal currently in place with Iran, and acknowledged Congress might be compelled to pass new sanctions if Iran reneges.
“At present, however, we believe that Congress must give diplomacy a chance,” the letter says. “A bill or resolution that risks fracturing our international coalition or, worse yet, undermining our credibility in future negotiations and jeopardizing hard-won progress toward a verifiable final agreement, must be avoided.”
The lawmakers added “robust diplomacy remains our best possible strategic option” and applauded American negotiators in Geneva for their work so far.
The letter comes as a bill that would enact new and tougher sanctions against the Iranian regime stalls in the Senate. Fifty-nine senators — 43 Republicans and 16 Democrats — have signed on to the bipartisan bill, whose main sponsors are Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).
Other top Senate Democrats though have consistently warned about the bill’s repercussions if it passed, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has signaled a few times he would hold off on a vote.
Some of the bill’s Democratic sponsors appeared to also back off of the bill following the State of the Union address last week in which Obama reiterated he would veto the measure if Congress passed it. He pleaded with members to give diplomacy time to work.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also said she opposed the sanctions bill in a letter released over the weekend.
No House Republican has signed Doggett’s and Price’s letter to the White House.
The interim agreement took effect Jan. 20, but negotiations continue to ensure Iran complies. Obama has previously said achieving a final deal with Iran could be difficult.