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 KerryWe haven't seen how low it can go OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Sanders-Biden climate task force calls for carbon-free power by 2035 | Park Police did not record radio transmissions during June 1 sweep of White House protesters | Court upholds protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears Biden-Sanders 'unity task force' rolls out platform recommendations MORE, along with Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Dems press Trump consumer safety nominee on chemical issues | Lawmakers weigh how to help struggling energy industry | 180 Democrats ask House leadership for clean energy assistance Lawmakers weigh how to help struggling energy industry The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Surgeon General stresses need to invest much more in public health infrastructure, during and after COVID-19; Fauci hopeful vaccine could be deployed in December MORE -- who joined him during the marathon talks in Vienna -- and Treasury Secretary Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewLobbying World Russian sanctions will boomerang Obama talks up Warren behind closed doors to wealthy donors 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 CorkerCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism 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) MenendezKoch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads Thomas Kean wins GOP primary to take on Rep. Tom Malinowski Trump administration moves to formally withdraw US from WHO 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 RubioGOP chairman vows to protect whistleblowers following Vindman retirement over 'bullying' Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad GOP Miami mayor does not commit to voting for Trump MORE (Fla.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard Paul'Live with it' is the new GOP response to COVID — but no, we can't do that Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads How conservative conspiracy theories are deepening America's political divide 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 McCainMcCain's reset: US-Vietnam relations going strong after 25 years Senate outlook slides for GOP Juan Williams: Time for boldness from Biden 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 MurphyConnecticut senators call for Subway to ban open carry of firearms Democrats optimistic about chances of winning Senate Gridlock mires chances of police reform deal 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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