Brown, Portman Divided on Iran Letter

Photos: U.S. Government Printing Office
Photos: U.S. Government Printing Office
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Sen. Rob Portman joined 46 fellow Republicans in inking his signature on a letter to the government of Iran. The letter said President Obama needs congressional approval for any nuclear agreement, and that a future president could revoke it "with the stroke of a pen."

The letter drew harsh criticism from Democrats, including Sen. Sherrod Brown, who called it "outrageous" and "misguided."

"It really sabotages the negotiations, and I don't understand what their thinking was, except they don't much like the president," Brown told reporters on a conference call. "I didn't much like President Bush's foreign policy, but I never did anything like this. And would have never considered writing a letter to Saddam Hussein or anybody else to undercut what President Bush was trying to do."

Democrats say the letter could undermine ongoing nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and Iran.

But Portman defended the letter, suggesting it could strengthen the administration's hand.

"It has nothing to do with the president, it has to do with Iran," Portman said, also in a conference call with reporters. "And I have looked at the letter very carefully, and I think the substance of it is accurate. I think the bigger issue is that it makes clear Congress will play a role in any agreement, and I think that is appropriate."

Portman and other Senators are urging the Obama administration to intensify economic sanctions if nuclear negotiations break down.

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