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 KerryWarren taps longtime aide as 2020 campaign manager In Virginia, due process should count more than blind team support Trump will give State of Union to sea of opponents MORE, along with Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizWhat we learned from the first Green New Deal Overnight Energy: GOP pushes back on climate | 2018 was fourth hottest year on record | Park Service reverses on using fees Pompeo: Kerry's conversations with Iran 'unseemly and unprecedented' 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 CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy 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) MenendezActing Defense chief calls Graham an 'ally' after tense exchange William Barr is right man for the times This week: Trump delivers State of the Union amid wall fight 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 RubioInviting Kim Jong Un to Washington Venezuela closes border with Brazil The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump escalates fight with NY Times MORE (Fla.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump escalates fight with NY Times The 10 GOP senators who may break with Trump on emergency On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 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 McCainMellman: Where are good faith and integrity? GOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech 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 MurphyCongress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support House passes bill to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen This week: Border deal remains elusive as shutdown looms 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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