Top Dem on Appropriations Committee Says 'No' to Iran Deal

The top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee says she will oppose the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran when it comes before Congress.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), who has served in Congress since 1989, said in a statement that she's reviewed the details of the deal "and consulted with officials in the Obama administration, regional experts, foreign leaders, Congressional colleagues, and my constituents."

“In my judgment, sufficient safeguards are not in place to address the risks associated with the agreement," Lowey said. "Relieving UN sanctions on conventional arms and ballistic missiles and releasing billions of dollars to the Iranian regime could lead to a dangerous regional weapons race and enable Iran to bolster its funding of terrorists. The deal does not explicitly require Iran to fully disclose its previous military work to the IAEA’s satisfaction before sanctions relief is provided, and inspectors will not have immediate access to the most suspicious facilities. There are no clear accountability measures regarding punishment for minor violations, which could encourage Iran to cheat."

She added that the agreement "will leave the international community with limited options in 15 years to prevent nuclear breakout in Iran, which will be an internationally-recognized nuclear threshold state, capable of producing highly enriched uranium."

"I am greatly concerned that the agreement lacks a crystal clear statement that the international community reserves the right to take all military, economic, and diplomatic measures necessary during the course of the deal and beyond to deter Iran from ever developing a nuclear weapon," Lowey continued. “Since the U.S. and Iran severed relations in 1980, the Iranian regime has become increasingly aggressive, openly anti-America and anti-Israel, extremely anti-Semitic, and the largest sponsor of terrorism in the world. Even today, the regime has made no good-faith demonstration toward bringing home four Americans who are held prisoner or missing in Iran."

"...Congress’s role has been invaluable, in partnership with the administration, in implementing the crippling sanctions that brought Iran to the table. I remain hopeful that the administration and Congress, in concert with our P5+1 and regional allies, can prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. However, I cannot support this agreement before Congress.”

Another New York Dem, freshman Rep. Kathleen Rice, yesterday wrote in an op-ed in the 5 Towns Jewish Times that she can't support the deal because it "represents a pause, not an end, to Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon."

"I'm unwilling to grant such economic and political legitimacy to a regime that prides itself on its persecution of women, children, journalists, religious minorities and political dissidents," Rice wrote. "I find the main argument for this deal – that the only alternative is war – to be a false choice."

"...I hope that history will ultimately prove President Obama right in his gamble on diplomacy and social progress in Iran. But for me, it is a risk I cannot support. It’s a gift of political legitimacy and economic empowerment that requires too little Iranian maturation across too little of its dangerous agenda."

New York Dem Grace Meng said last week that she'd be voting no. That came the day after Secretary of State John Kerry lobbied her and other lawmakers in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.

Meng commended President Obama and Kerry “for their efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but the deal before us now is simply too dangerous for the American people.”

UPDATE 5:30 p.m. EST: Another New York Dem -- and former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee -- has said no.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Democratic leadership tasked with steering the Dems' policy and communications, told Newsday in a telephone interview, "I'm going to vote against the Iran deal."

"I tried very hard to get to yes. But at the end of the day, despite some positive elements in the deal, the totality compelled me to oppose it," Israel said.

"The alternative is as imperfect as the deal is. I can't cast my vote based on hypotheticals. I have to base my vote on what's in my heart... This is one of the most important foreign policy and national security issues we're gong to vote on. My thoughts on it will be expressed as respectfully but as forcefully as I can."