Pelosi cautiously optimistic on Iran deal

Pelosi cautiously optimistic on Iran deal
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday she's hopeful an Iranian nuclear deal is still possible but warned that Congress won't rubber-stamp an agreement that falls short of preventing Iran from building nuclear arms.

"I feel confident that if the president brings an agreement to the Congress, that it will be sustained by the Congress," Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol. "I hope that that is possible — not just any deal, but one that does the job."

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The California Democrat delivered the comments two days after negotiators extended their deadline to Friday, the second extension since June 30. The United States, along with five other world powers, is seeking to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons in exchange for the elimination of long-standing trade sanctions. 

Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryA presidential candidate pledge can right the wrongs of an infamous day Equilibrium/Sustainability — Dam failures cap a year of disasters Four environmental fights to watch in 2022 MORE, who is in Vienna leading the talks on behalf of the Obama administration, is scheduled to give an update Thursday afternoon. 

Democratic leaders, meanwhile, seem to be growing more skeptical that a deal can be reached amid reports that Iranian leaders have walked back certain concessions demanded by the administration. 

Rep. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta Democrats eager to fill power vacuum after Pelosi exit Overnight Health Care — Insurance will soon cover COVID-19 tests MORE (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that Democrats are frustrated by the reported "backsliding," calling it a trend that "does not bode well for an agreement." And Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the Democratic whip, said this week that the Iranians seem to be playing a game of "rope-a-dope" designed to "string out these negotiations."

"I, frankly, think that it appears the Iranians are unwilling to meet the requirements that are necessary in order for there to be an agreement," Hoyer said Tuesday.

President Obama, who met with a group of senators on the issue earlier this week, reportedly told the lawmakers that an agreement was slipping away.

"He said the chances he thought were less than 50-50 at this point and that he wouldn't agree to something he thought was weak or unenforceable," Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinManchin, Collins leading talks on overhauling election law, protecting election officials Swalwell slams House Republican for touting funding in bill she voted down Schumer opted for modest rules reform after pushback from moderates MORE (D-Ill.) told Politico.

Pelosi said she hasn't heard that message from the White House but remains hopeful the Western powers can prevent the creation of a nuclear-armed Iran — whatever the strategy. 

"We're all ... following it very closely because it's very important, and I'm very hopeful and prayerful that they can reach an agreement. But if it's not the agreement that works, then hopefully there's another route to stopping the proliferation of a weapon of mass destruction," she said. "That's a very, very serious matter."