Jewish former lawmakers urge backing for Iran nuclear deal


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jane Harman, a Jewish ex-lawmaker who once was the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, was among 75 ex-Congress members who signed a letter urging their sitting colleagues to support the Iran nuclear deal.

“We know of no viable alternatives to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that is now before you,” said the letter organized by the Win Without War group posted Monday. “We agree that no deal is better than a bad deal. But we also agree that a good deal is better than no deal.”

Seventy-one of the signatories are Democrats.

Seven of the signatories were among the 11 former Jewish members of Congress, all Democrats, who signed a letter appearing Aug. 27 in The New York Times expressing support for the sanctions relief for nuclear restrictions deal reached July 14 between Iran and the major powers. They also urged sitting lawmakers not to disapprove of the agreement.

Among the signatories were former members of the party leadership, including Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, for years the top Democrat on the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, a one-time chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Banking Committee.

Congress has until late September to decide whether to exercise its right to kill the deal.

Most Republicans oppose the deal, and opponents and backers of the deal are focusing on undecided Democrats.

President Barack Obama is leading efforts to keep Congress from killing the deal. Leading opposition to the deal, in addition to Republicans, are Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Much of the focus has been on the 27 Jewish lawmakers caucusing with Democrats in both chambers. Of these, six have said they will oppose the deal, 13 say they support it and eight are undecided.

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