Senate Dems slam GOP's Iran letter
© Lauren Schneiderman

Democrats took to the Senate floor Tuesday morning to slam their Republican colleagues over a letter they sent to Iranian leadership about ongoing nuclear talks.

Forty-seven Republican senators suggested in an open letter that any deal the Obama administration makes over Iran's nuclear program could be undone after he leaves office in 2017. Negotiators are currently facing a March 24 deadline to reach a "framework" of a final deal.

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Democratic Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinBlagojevich's wife 'speechless' that officer's sentence less than half of husband's Trump pitches new plan to reopen government amid Dem pushback Democrats signal they'll reject Trump shutdown proposal MORE (Ill.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonFlorida lawmaker diagnosed with pancreatic cancer Rick Scott threw party at Florida governor’s mansion after DeSantis and family had moved in: report Restoration of voting rights by felons marks shift in Florida MORE (Fla.) and Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSenate Dems raise concerns about shutdown's impact on assistance to taxpayers Durbin signals he will run for reelection Coal supporter Manchin named top Dem on Senate Energy Committee MORE (Mich.) said Tuesday their Republican counterparts were endangering the ongoing negotiations by playing politics.

"I don't believe the Republican leadership was thinking clearly," Durbin said. "Though many cannot accept it, here in this chamber, [President Obama] is the president of the United States, and he deserves our respect."

Stabenow called the letter "shocking, dangerous, and deeply troubling."

"When war hangs in the balance, and specifically nuclear war hangs in the balance, should members of the United States Senate be in the position of publicly undermining the United States president?" she asked. "It is shocking, dangerous, and deeply troubling to me that 47 members of this body decided ... to stand on the side of the ayatollahs and the most extreme voices in Iran."

Stabenow said Republicans should follow the advice of the late Sen. Arthur Vandenberg (R-Mich.) who said that politics should halt at international borders.

"I urge them to stop the politics at 'the water's edge.' We are talking about the possibility of a nuclear Iran. We all agree that must not happen," she said. "We must stand together with the smartest, most effective strategy to make sure that doesn't not happen."

Nelson, as well as Stabenow and Durbin, echoed Monday comments from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), saying they wouldn't have sent a letter to Iraqi leadership because of their disagreements with President George W. Bush over the Iraq War

"We can disagree about the specifics, but we still have to honor the institution of the presidency," Nelson said.