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 DurbinDurbin calls Mueller report findings on Trump team 'troubling' Congress opens door to fraught immigration talks McConnell: 'Past time' for immigration-border security deal MORE (Ill.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonTrump administration renews interest in Florida offshore drilling: report Dem reps say they were denied access to immigrant detention center Ex-House Intel chair: Intel panel is wrong forum to investigate Trump's finances MORE (Fla.) and Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowDemocratic proposals to overhaul health care: A 2020 primer We can accelerate a cure for Alzheimer's Bipartisan senators offer bill to expand electric vehicle tax credit 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.