- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 3, 2015

A key House Republican on Thursday pressed the Obama administration to provide a full record of its negotiations with Iran relating to the nuclear deal reached this summer — setting the stage for a new standoff between the White House and Congress as lawmakers prepare to vote on the deal in the coming weeks.

The move by South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, came as President Obama continued to pick up Democratic support in the Senate ahead of the showdown vote later this month on the nuclear pact, which would curb Tehran’s nuclear programs over the next decade in exchange for a gradual lifting of international economic sanctions.

The White House on Wednesday secured the 34th Senate Democrat needed to sustain an expected Obama veto should the House and Senate vote down the deal. The president needs 41 votes to uphold a filibuster and avoid the need for a veto and on Thursday picked up three more undecided Democrats.

Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Mark Warner of Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota announced their backing in quick succession for the deal.

The announcement from Mr. Booker, in particular, was closely watched because he was under immense pressure from segments of the Jewish community in New Jersey to oppose the deal, and New Jersey’s other Democratic senator, Bob Menendez, is one of just two Senate Democrats to come out publicly against the agreement, according to The Associated Press.

“It is better to support a deeply flawed deal, for the alternative is worse,” said Mr. Booker.

Republicans and outside critics have not given up the fight, and Mr. Duncan’s request zeroes in on charges that parts of the final deal have still not been shown to lawmakers as they prepare to vote.

In a letter Wednesday to Secretary of State John F. Kerry, Mr. Duncan asked for the State Department to “release to all documents and communications in your possession, custody, or control relating to the nuclear deal.”

Mr. Duncan also called for a release of all communications between the U.S. and its negotiating partners — Britain, France, Germany, the EU, Russia and China — arguing that such materials are needed “in order to ensure that members of Congress are fully aware of the implications” of the accord.

The White House is eager avoid a protracted veto fight. In Florida Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden offered a strong defense of the deal, amid speculation about his own presidential ambitions.

“I tell you, I firmly believe, and I will go into some detail here, it will make us and Israel safer, not weaker,” Mr. Biden said at a roundtable discussion alongside Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, who remains uncommitted on the pact.

⦁ David R. Sands contributed to this report, which was based in part on wire service reports.

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