Progressive Democrat slams 'hyperpartisan' Iran letter

Progressive Democrat Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeKamala Harris shopping trip stirs Twitter campaign trail debate Newsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Hispanic civil rights icon endorses Harris for president MORE (Calif.) on Wednesday condemned the Senate Republican letter to Iran warning that a nuclear deal with the U.S. and international negotiators might not last beyond President Obama's presidency. 

"The open letter authored to the leadership of Iran is a reckless and hyperpartisan attempt to derail ongoing negotiations and to undermine President Obama and our national security," said Lee in a statement. 

Lee joins a growing chorus of Democrats and White House officials slamming the letter as a partisan attempt to undermine negotiations with Iran to roll back its nuclear program, and undercut the president. 

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Secretary of State John Kerry at a Senate hearing earlier in the day called the letter "irresponsible" and "flat wrong." 

Lee said that the letter was an attempt to usurp the president's authority to conduct foreign policy. 

"This letter sets a dangerous precedent for a small minority to use partisan lines to undermine American foreign policy and national security," she said.  

The author of the letter, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), defended the move in a USA Today op-ed Wednesday, saying that the letter was a response to the administration seeking to bypass Congress in its negotiations with Iran. 

"That is why this week, I, along with 46 of my fellow senators, wrote Iranian leaders to inform them of the role Congress plays in approving their agreement. Our goal is simple: to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," Cotton wrote.  

Cotton said the administration "cares little" about what kind of accord would win congressional approval and more about reaching "some sort of deal."

"Regrettably, it appears the deal President Obama is negotiating with Iran will not be a good one. In fact, if reports are correct, it will be a bad one that will ultimately allow Iran to continue its nuclear program and ultimately develop a nuclear weapon," he wrote.

Negotiators have two weeks before a March 24 deadline to reach the framework of an agreement. 

Lee said current negotiations have already led to a "first-step agreement" that has significantly reduced Iran's nuclear stockpile and reduced its ability to create a nuclear weapon, referring to an interim deal.  

"Continued negotiations remain the best route to ensuring security and preventing war," she said.