When President Barack Obama first announced a deal to monitor Iran’s nuclear capabilities, members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation expressed cautious support, pending a thorough review of the agreement. A vote has not yet come to the floor, but that cautious support has turned into explicit approval for all but two of Connecticut’s representatives in Washington.
Only Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, have not expressed their support for the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), forcing us all to wait with bated breath for their final word on the matter.
Blumenthal expects to inform the world of his decision “sometime in the next couple weeks,” as was reported by the Associated Press.
“I’m considering very seriously the very cogent points that he’s made in favor of delaying any congressional action,” Blumenthal told Politico. “I’m talking to colleagues on both sides of the aisle. And I think they are thinking, and rethinking, their positions in light of the points that the president and his team are making to us.”
Esty just returned from a trip to Israel sponsored by American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which has been vocally lobbying against the deal. As of last week, Esty has not made a definitive statement on the agreement, though she did say previously that “diplomacy can best achieve our goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon now or in the future.”
Blumenthal is not alone among Senate Democrats in withholding his support. Notably, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has publicly spoken against the agreement.
But Blumenthal is alone among his colleagues in Connecticut. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, held a pair of public discussions on the topic before offering his support.
“After carefully considering the concerns of my constituents on both sides of this issue — as well as the information I have received through the Congressional Briefing process and the dynamics at play in the Middle East — I have decided to support the agreement,” Larson said in a release. “While imperfect, this deal is our best chance at diplomatically preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
That support did not, however, come before a proposed resolution authorizing the use of force should Iran break the terms of the deal. Proposed by Larson, that resolution had no co-sponsors and was presented shortly before Congress’ August break.
Other Connecticut congresspeople have been more openly supportive.
“The full weight of the international community is behind this deal,” U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro said in a statement last week. “To walk away from it would leave the United States with few realistic options for limiting Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon. If we choose to abandon the international community, we risk jeopardizing the legitimacy of any potential military action that we may be forced to take against the Iranian regime in the future.”
DeLauro wrote that the agreement is “not rooted in trust,” a point many of her colleagues seemed to feel important to make.
“To be clear, I am under no illusion that this agreement represents a new era of trust or friendship between the Iranian regime and the rest of the world. It does not,” Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, wrote, though he did not make clear his intention to vote for the deal.
“I believe that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the best option for our nation and the international community to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapons capability, and I will support the agreement when it comes up for a vote,” he said.
Though he said he has “decided to support” the agreement, Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, also called Iran’s trustworthiness into question.
“There are no perfect answers or easy solutions in the Middle East — only choices with varying levels of risk associated with them,” Himes said in a statement. “International agreements with one’s foes are as fraught with potential pitfalls as they are with opportunity. The Iranian regime has shown itself to be untrustworthy and destabilizing.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been outspoken in his opposition to the deal, calling it “a nightmare deal for the world” on NBC’s Meet the Press. Connecticut’s junior senator, Chris Murphy, however, invoked another Israeli prime minister when expressing his support for the agreement.
“Upon recognizing the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1993, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said, ‘you don’t make peace with friends, you make it with very unsavory enemies.’ Diplomacy with adversaries is never easy, and the results are never pretty,” Murphy said in a statement. But hundreds of wars have been avoided by nations supporting imperfect but necessary diplomatic arrangements. And we aren’t making peace with Iran with this agreement, we’re simply ensuring they don’t become a nuclear-armed adversary.”
“This agreement, from the beginning, has been about stopping Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon without having to go to war again,” Murphy said. “Because I believe that Iran is less likely to get a nuclear weapon with this agreement than without it, I will support it.”
Jordan Fenster can be reached by or @JordanFenster on Twitter.