A critical player, necessary for any lasting deal, was not represented at last week’s negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program in Geneva: Congress. Only lawmakers have the power to give Iran the long-term relief from economic sanctions that it wants. But while an overwhelming bipartisan consensus exists on Capitol Hill about how to negotiate with Tehran, it differs from the approach favored by the White House. If diplomacy is to succeed, these two branches will have to develop a joint strategy before the next round of talks.
The goal of preventing a nuclear Iran has always been a bipartisan one, embraced by presidents of both parties. But it is in Congress that this consensus has been most pronounced. Though perceived as mired in gridlock, lawmakers have passed sanctions against Iran every year for the last five years. The most controversial of these measures garnered 70 percent of the votes. The majority pass with near unanimity.
Despite such legislative bipartisanship, there has been a fundamental disagreement between the White House and Capitol Hill about how to negotiate with Iran.