An open letter to Iran by 47 Republican members of the United States Senate released Monday started a heated debate this week. The question was: Who controls foreign policy -- Congress or the president?
The letter warned Iran that any deal over its disputed nuclear program with the Obama administration could be overturned. It said that the next U.S. president "could revoke such an executive agreement" and "future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time." Without congressional approval, the letter said, the agreement would be only an executive agreement.
Lawmakers signing the letter included all but seven of the Republican Party's 54-member majority in the U.S. Senate. They noted that President Barack Obama was leaving office in less than two years, as required by the Constitution. Many of them, they said, might still be in office for many years.
Historically, presidents and Congress have argued over their constitutional powers to control foreign policy. Thomas Fleming is a historian who writes about American history. He says America's first president had a strong opinion on the responsibility of the executive branch in foreign policy.
"Washington's presidency was the strong president personified. He was barely in the chair of the presidency more than a few days and he wrote a letter to all the nations of Europe saying ‘if you want to communicate with the United States of America, write a letter to me, George Washington, not to the Congress.'"
President Obama criticized the letter to Iran on Monday. A spokesman for the president, Josh Earnest, told reporters the letter was an attempt to slow down the sensitive negotiations. The U.S. and five other world powers are trying to reach a basic agreement with Iran. The goal is to persuade Iran to give up its program to develop nuclear weapons in return for easing of international sanctions.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was one of the lawmakers to sign the letter. He defended it, saying he did not know why the administration wanted to keep Congress out of the emerging deal with Iran. He said it was clear that the president did not want Congress to have a part in a deal that could have a big effect on U.S. national security.
The letter brought strong reactions from former and current diplomatic officials. Democrat Hillary Clinton has served as both a U.S. senator and a U.S. secretary of state. She said the letter was out of step with the best traditions of the Senate.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday that the letter left him in "disbelief."
"This risks undermining the confidence that foreign governments in thousands of important agreements commit to between the United States and other countries. And it purports to tell the world that if you want to have any confidence in your dealings with America they have to negotiate with 535 members of Congress."
Not all Republican Senators agreed with the letter. Earlier in the week, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker did not think the letter would help to get a bill that would require Congress to advise on a possible nuclear deal with Iran and possibly lifting sanctions at an appropriate time. And Senator Susan Collins of Maine told VOA that she did not think the letter was the right thing to do.
Iranian officials also responded to the letter. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the move showed "disintegration" in U.S. politics. Iranian Foreign Minister and chief negotiator Mohammed Javad Zarif dismissed the letter, saying it was of "no legal value."
Talks are set to restart on Sunday. Negotiators are seeking to complete the basic deal by the end of March, with final agreement by the end of June.
Whether the U.S. can reach a nuclear agreement with Iran, one thing is clear. The U.S. Constitution states that the President of the United States "shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties."
I'm Christopher Jones-Cruise.
1.heated adj. 热的，加热的；热烈的
It was a very heated argument and they were shouting at each other...
When the Russian parliament overturned his decision, he backed down...
We hereby revoke the agreement of January 1 st 1982.
Established practices are difficult to modify.
The commission had barely begun to make a dent in the problem.
6.undermine v. 渐渐破坏
This crisis has undermined his position.
1.Lawmakers signing the letter included all but seven of the Republican Party's 54-member majority in the U.S. Senate.
all but几乎， 差不多； 除了…之外（都）
All but a few will say amen to his proposal.
2.A spokesman for the president, Josh Earnest, told reporters the letter was an attempt to slow down the sensitive negotiations.
The car slowed down as they passed Customs...
3.The goal is to persuade Iran to give up its program to develop nuclear weapons in return for easing of international sanctions.
in return for作为…的回报
I'll sell at a discount in return for a speedy sale.
4.She said the letter was out of step with the best traditions of the Senate.
out of step with失调
This approach is now seriously out of step with the times.
5.And it purports to tell the world that if you want to have any confidence in your dealings with America they have to negotiate with 535 members of Congress.
Her letter may purport her forthcoming arrival.
该信件警告伊朗，伊朗与奥巴马政府达成的有关有争议的核项目的任何协议都可能被推翻。这封公开信表示，“下任美国总统可以撤销这类行政协定”，“未来的国会可以在任何时间修改协定条款” 。如果没有国会批准，这项协定就只能是一项行政协定 。
在这份信件上签名的国会议员包括美国参议院共和党多数派54位成员中的47位。他们指出，根据宪法要求，奥巴马总统还有不到两年时间就将离任 。而参议员中的大多数还将任职多年 。
从历史上看，很多总统和国会针对宪法规定的他们控制外交政策的权利有过争论。Thomas Fleming是一位历史学家，编写美国历史 。他说，美国首任总统对行政部门在外交政策上的职责意见非常强硬 。
周一，奥巴马总统批评了参议院写给伊朗的这封信函 。总统发言人厄内斯特对记者表示，这封信试图延缓敏感的谈判过程 。美国和其它五个世界大国正试图同伊朗达成基本协议 。我们的目标是说服伊朗放弃其发展核武器的计划，换取国际社会减轻对这个国家的制裁 。
参议院多数派领袖，来自肯塔基州的共和党人米切·麦康奈尔(Mitch McConnell)在这封公开信上签名。他辩解说，他不知道政府为什么想要将国会排除在即将同伊朗签署的协议之外 。他说，很明显，总统不希望国会在可能对美国国家安全具有重大影响的协议中发挥作用 。
这封信引发了前任和现任外交官的强烈反应。民主党人希拉里·克林顿(Hillary Clinton)曾经担任美国参议员和美国国务卿 。她说这封信与参议院的优良传统格格不入 。
并非所有共和党参议员赞同这封公开信。本周早些时候，参议院外交关系委员会主席鲍勃·科克(Bob Corker)认为这封信无助于通过一项法案，要求国会对同伊朗可能签署的核协议和恰当的时候解除制裁提出建议 。缅因州参议员苏珊·柯林斯(Susan Collins)对VOA表示，她不认为这封信做得对 。
伊朗官员对这封信作出了回应。伊朗最高领袖哈梅内伊(Ayatollah Ali Khamenei)表示，此举显示了美国政治的分裂 。伊朗外长和首席谈判代表扎里夫(Mohammed Javad Zarif)对这封信不屑一顾，他说，这封信“没有任何法律价值” 。