For what some Obama worshipers in the press are calling an “historic” agreement,” members of Congress appear to be mostly unimpressed — even Democrats.
The #2 Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer, called the agreement a “marginal improvement” and told Face the Nation that “we don’t trust Iran.”
The ranking Democratic member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, said, “I don’t think you make them bargain in good faith by going squishy.” Like many Republicans, Engel was disappointed that the deal didn’t call for Iran to suspend its enrichment program.
Republicans appeared far more skeptical.
“Amazing what WH will do to distract attention from O-care,” the Senate Minority Whip tweeted shortly after the deal was announced.
The #3 Republican in the House, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, nixed that suggestion:
“I would never judge upon that when we’re dealing with international,” McCarthy said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“I know they need some type of other news, but that would be the biggest mistake any administration could do.”
The California Republican also endorsed the plan, now laid out by both Democrats and Republicans, to continue with congressional sanctions legislation but to delay its implementation for at least six months.
And McCarthy cautioned Obama “from overselling this deal,” noting Israel’s concerns and that the deal stops short of fully stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
“We should not take this lightly,” McCarthy said. “We have to have a full dismantling if we want the world to be safer.”
Some Republicans weren’t very charitable at all:
Iranian negotiators could view the fresh nuclear deal as a chance to gain an edge over an Obama administration lacking “intestinal fortitude,” according to Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Corker said that Iran views the president’s team as “weak,” and could use the new deal on its nuclear development to win relief from economic sanctions without any major changes to their nuclear program.
“If you see the reaction in Iran right now, they’re spiking the football in the end zone,” said Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who also sits on that panel, also emphasized the need to closely watch Iran to make sure they follow through on their end of the deal, but praised the administration’s diplomatic efforts.
“The bottom line is that we have to work with the international community,” he said. “Are we concerned that Iran will try to circumvent this agreement? You bet we’re concerned about that.”
Marco Rubio sounded, well, presidential:
“This agreement will not ‘freeze’ Iran’s nuclear program and won’t require the regime to suspend all enrichment as required by multiple UN Security Council resolutions,” the Florida Republican said in a statement. “By allowing the Iranian regime to retain a sizable nuclear infrastructure, this agreement makes a nuclear Iran more likely. There is now an even more urgent need for Congress to increase sanctions until Iran completely abandons its enrichment and reprocessing capabilities.”
“This agreement shows other rogue states that wish to go nuclear that you can obfuscate, cheat, and lie for a decade, and eventually the United States will tire and drop key demands. Iran will likely use this agreement – and any that follows that does not require any real concessions – to obtain a nuclear weapons capability,” the potential GOP presidential candidate added.
Rubio said the agreement was “a blow to our allies in the region who are already concerned about America’s commitment to their security and it sends the wrong message to the Iranian people, who continue to suffer under the repressive rule of their leaders who have only their own self-preservation in mind.”
Finally, Eric Cantor came up with perhaps the quote of the day: “Distrust, but verify”:
“Numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions have called for the full suspension of Iran’s nuclear activities, so it is troubling that this agreement still permits the Iranians to continue enriching,” the House majority leader said in a statement.
“It is critical that distrust but verify be the guiding principle with which we approach this agreement,” he added
Cantor pointed to Iran’s “long history of noncompliance with the U.N. Security Council” as well as Tehran’s “use of secret facilities to pursue its nuclear program.”
“Iran remains the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism and the most destabilizing force in the Middle East,” Cantor added.
The Virginia Republican said the U.S. must remain vigilant and respond “immediately and severely immediately and severely to any cheating or wrongdoing by Iran.”
“And we must rebuild our alliances in the region and stand firmly with our closest partners against Iranian aggression,” Cantor added.
Unfortunately, the architect of our diminished position in the Middle East and destroyer of our alliances is going to be in office until 2016. Unless the president shows a capacity for toughness that he has yet to demonstrate, by that time Iran will almost certainly be nuclear capable unless Israel takes a hand in its own defense and prevents that nightmare eventuality from happening.