Republican senators said Tuesday that President Barack Obama had made Congress a “pariah” by signing a nuclear deal with Iran.
During a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman Bob Corker lamented that U.S. negotiators with Iran had been “fleeced” during the talks earlier this month in Vienna. Likewise, Sen. Jim Risch took his allotted time to explain how Americans had been “bamboozled.” (RELATED: Watch Marco Rubio Take On John Kerry)
Before them sat Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, and Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew, tasked with defending the deal before skeptics in Congress. After Risch’s remarks, Kerry sheepishly asked, “Can we respond at all to any of that?”
Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer called Corker and Risch’s remarks “disrespectful and insulting” to the administration’s officials and U.S. allies, citing the countless friendly countries that have voiced support for the deal at the U.N. Security Council and in other venues.
Likewise, Kerry brandished a printout of a recent Washington Post blog entry: “How the Iran deal is good for Israel, according to Israelis who know what they’re talking about.” He also pointed to support for the deal by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. (RELATED: White House’s @TheIranDeal Gets Rivals @TheIranBomb and @TheIranMeal)
Many Republicans’ complaints focused on the timeline of internationally-brokered inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities. The “anytime, anywhere” principle that the U.S. had reportedly sought was replaced, in the final agreement, by a complex process of checks and balances that could give Iran up to 24 days to prepare for inspections.
And Sen. Marco Rubio objected to the narrowness of the deal, mentioning the urgent need to address Iran’s human rights record. He also alleged that the agreement safeguarded against attempts by the U.S. and its allies to sabotage Iranian facilities.
Kerry denied the truth of Rubio’s latter claim. He also said that there was no feasible alternative to the deal (he previously called the alternate proposals “some sort of unicorn”), noting that Rubio had not proposed any kind of “better deal” with Iran.
“I have,” Rubio replied.
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