During a television appearance this week, Connecticut’s junior senator had some harsh words for his Republican colleagues who have been expressing opposition to a proposed deal with Iran.
“Republicans in Congress, and I really believe this, just simply don’t believe in the legitimacy of diplomacy as a tool in the toolkit of the American president,” Sen. Christopher Murphy said Thursday during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
President Barack Obama this week announced an agreement by which economic sanctions on Iran would be lifted in exchange for extensive and long-term monitoring of that country’s nuclear development program.
Murphy, along with other members of Connecticut’s delegation in Washington — and many Democrats nationwide — expressed support for the agreement in theory, as well as the need for more evaluation before Congress signs off.
Republicans, however, expressed the opposite sentiment.
For example, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has exchanged pleasantries with Murphy in the past, going so far as to suggest Murphy as a possible presidential candidate, did not mince words when sharing his opposition to the deal with Iran, calling it “delusional and dangerous.”
“While I will thoroughly review all of the details of this agreement, all signs point to this being a bad deal,” McCain said. “Ultimately, the problem with this agreement is that it is built far too much on hope — on the belief that somehow the Iranian government will fundamentally change in the next several years, such that it can be trusted with a growing arsenal, a huge influx of cash, and the infrastructure of a nuclear program.”
Murphy said Republican opposition to the deal was a matter of habit, and not based in fact.
“I don’t hear them talk a lot about the about the details of the deal, they seem to just object to the very nature of entering into an agreement with Iran that would give them access to tens of billions of dollars that have been held in abeyance,” he said.
When asked to clarify the senator’s comments, Murphy spokesperson Laura Maloney said “his comments this morning were lamenting the fact that many Republicans opposed this deal before the details were even known simply because it was President Obama’s signature on the dotted line.”
Murphy, though, said that the United States’ ability to conduct international negotiations in the future would be severely curtailed, should Congress reject this agreement.
The result, he said, would be the “worst of both worlds.” Sanctions would be lifted by Iran’s supporters, like Russia and China, without the nuclear program monitoring the current proposal allows.
“I’m just amazed there’s such a casualness of opposition to this deal given the consequences of the United States Congress rejecting it in the face of all this international support,” he said on MSNBC.
“This is an exceptional moment, in which you have the United States, our European partners, Russia, and China all agreeing on a path forward, and if the United States Congress was to override that, I don’t know how any president in the future could ever sits across from our allies and adversaries and negotiate a deal,” he said. “If this deal goes down, then I don’t see how the United States can lead any diplomatic effort in the near future around the world without people questioning whether or not Congress is going to step in and override it.”
Jordan Fenster can be reached by or @JordanFenster on Twitter.