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Iran Deal Opponents: U.S. Democrats

Here is what some Democrats in Congress have said about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), member of Senate Committee on Armed Services: “Sen. Joe Manchin will vote to oppose the nuclear agreement with Iran, joining every other member of West Virginia’s congressional delegation in opposition.” (Manchin opposes Iran deal by David Gutman, Charleston [W.Va.] Gazette-Mail, September 8, 2015)

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “This is a close call, but after a lengthy review, I will vote to disapprove the deal. The JCPOA legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program. After 10 to 15 years, it would leave Iran with the option to produce enough enriched fuel for a nuclear weapon in a short time.” (I will vote against the Iran deal by Ben Cardin, The Washington Post, September 4, 2015)

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “I have looked into my own soul and my devotion to principle may once again lead me to an unpopular course, but if Iran is to acquire a nuclear bomb, it will not have my name on it. It is for these reasons that I will vote to disapprove the agreement and, if called upon, would vote to override a veto.” (Sen. Menendez speech at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations, August 18, 2015, includes 45’04”video)

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY): “I will vote to disapprove the agreement, not because I believe war is a viable or desirable option, nor to challenge the path of diplomacy. It is because I believe Iran will not change, and under this agreement it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power. Better to keep U.S. sanctions in place, strengthen them, enforce secondary sanctions on other nations, and pursue the hard-trodden path of diplomacy once more, difficult as it may be.” (My Position on the Iran deal, Sen. Chuck Schumer, August 7, 2015)

(See also: Senate Scorecard by Secure America Now.)

US Capitol west side by Martin Falbisoner

Also voted against approving the deal (25 House Democrats in total): Reps. Gwen Graham (FL), Gene Green (TX), Grace Napolitano (CA), Collin Peterson (MN), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), and Filemon Vela (TX). (House rejects Obama’s Iran deal by Cristina Marcos, The Hill, September 11, 2015)

Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA), “Unfortunately, despite the positives in this agreement, the history of United States negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran has led me to a frustrating conclusion. [….] I cannot support any agreement that allows leeway to the repressive regime in Iran. [….] I will vote in favor of the people of the United States, Israel and Iran, by voting against this deal.” (Cárdenas Statement on Iran Deal, Press Release, September 10, 2015)

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), an Air Force Veteran: “I will be opposing the JCPOA because I believe it is more likely than not that the JCPOA will turn out to be a bad deal. [….] Ultimately this is a vote of conscience and I cannot in good conscience vote for a deal–absent fundamental regime change–that gives Iran a legal path to a vast nuclear infrastructure and lifts two crucial arms control provisions, the arms embargo and the ballistic missile ban. My conscience is clear. I will oppose the JCPOA.” (Statement of Representative Ted W. Lieu in Opposition To the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), September 10, 2015)

Rep. Brad Ashford (D-NE), member of House Armed Services Committee: “There is no question that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism throughout the Middle East.  It has supported the training and arming of extremist groups and governments that are dedicated to the destruction of Israel and harming the United States and its citizens. I cannot vote to approve this deal that will provide further financial means to these ends. It would further destabilize the region, which is already engulfed in strife, and undermines our national security and that of our allies.“ (Congressman Ashford press release, September 8, 2015)

Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), member of Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa of Committee on Foreign Affairs: “I do not support the current deal because it legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program after 15 years and gives Iran access to billions of dollars without a commitment to cease its terrorist activity. It’s too high a price to pay.” (Congresswoman Frankel press release, September 7, 2015)

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL): “Lipinski told the Sun-Times in a statement, ‘After careful consideration, I believe that we would have a better chance for peace by rejecting this deal, keeping our sanctions on Iran, and working to improve this agreement. [….] At the core of my opposition to the JCPOA is its failure to meet many of the Administration’s stated negotiating goals plus the surprise addition of relief from sanctions on Iran’s access to conventional military weapons and ballistic missile technology.’” (Rep. Dan Lipinski to oppose Iran nuclear deal by Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times, September 4, 2015)

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY): “There are strong arguments for and against the agreement but, as a matter of conscience, I have decided to oppose it. [….] We can hope for the best, but we need an agreement that assumes the worst. After carefully studying the situation, I have come to the conclusion that I have too many concerns to support this agreement.” (Congresswoman Maloney’s Statement Opposing Iran Nuclear Agreement, August 27, 2015)

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA), member of House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Middle East subcommittee: “We would be better off with no deal, which would ensure that Iran does not get $56 billion it can use to funnel to Hamas and Hezbollah. [….] The nuclear agreement with Iran doesn’t make war less likely. It makes war more likely.” (Iran deal increases risk of war by Brendan F. Boyle,, August 23, 2015)

Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ), member of House Armed Services Committee: “Iran must never be allowed to become a nuclear threat to the world. Not today. Not ten or fifteen years from now. Never. [….] I cannot in good conscience endorse this deal. [….] I’m not looking for perfection, but I do believe that a better deal can be achieved. We have not exhausted all efforts. Diplomacy has worked and can continue to work. That’s why I urge all parties back to the bargaining table so we can continue a dialogue that can help us achieve an accord that ensures a nuclear-free Iran and a safer world.” (Rep. Norcross speaking to community members at Congregation Sons of Israel in Cherry Hill, NJ, August 18, 2015)

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Senior Democratic Whip: “After careful review, I have decided that I cannot support this deal. The goal of the recently concluded negotiations was to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The negotiators worked diligently, but in the end, the JCPOA allows Iran to remain a nuclear threshold state while simultaneously reaping the benefits of relief from international sanctions.” (I’m voting against the Iran nuclear deal by Alcee Hastings, Palm Beach Post, August 13, 2015)

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), second Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee: “This agreement is the good, the bad and the ugly. It contains the good and the bad in the first year, and gets ugly in the years thereafter [.…] A strong congressional vote against the agreement is the best way to make it clear that the agreement is not binding on Congress, the American people or future administrations.” (Press release, August 7, 2015)

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member, House Foreign Affairs Committee: “Unfortunately, I cannot support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. [….] I have raised questions and concerns throughout the negotiating phase and review period. The answers I’ve received simply don’t convince me that this deal will keep a nuclear weapon out of Iran’s hands, and may in fact strengthen Iran’s position as a destabilizing and destructive influence across the Middle East. [….] I still believe that a negotiated solution is the best course of action. That’s the path I believe we should pursue. But after careful consideration of all of the material; more than a dozen hearings since the beginning of the negotiating period; and conversations with administration officials, experts and many of my constituents, I regret that I cannot support this deal.” (Another New York Democrat Opposes Iran Deal by Steven Dennis, Roll Call, August 6, 2015)

Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), former Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: “[A]t the end of the day, despite some positive elements in the deal, the totality compelled me to oppose it.” (Newsday, August 4, 2015)

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), ranking member, House Appropriations Committee: “In my judgment, sufficient safeguards are not in place to address the risks associated with the agreement. [….] 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.” (Press release, August 4, 2015; see also tweet)

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), ranking member, House Foreign Affairs Middle East subcommittee: “This deal may temporarily slow Iran’s nuclear enrichment, but it speeds up the enrichment of the Revolutionary Guard and the Iranian terror proxies that endanger security and stability in the Middle East. [….] After a decade in public life working to stop Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons, I cannot support a deal giving Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief – in return for letting it maintain an advanced nuclear program and the infrastructure of a threshold nuclear state.” (I can’t support Iran nuclear deal by Ted Deutch, Sun Sentinel, August 4, 2015)

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), “This deal represents a pause, not an end, to Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon. [….] Diplomacy was working, and we shouldn’t pull the plug on it. Instead, we need to convince our P5+1 partners that a better deal can be had by keeping the sanctions in place. [The deal] 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. For the sake of peace, we can do better.” (Iran Deal Is a Risk I Can’t Support, 5 Towns Jewish Times, August 3, 2015)

Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ): “I am opposed to the current proposed nuclear agreement with Iran, I do not feel the agreement will prevent them from acquiring a nuclear weapon.” (Congressman Sires’ Statement on Proposed Iran Nuclear Agreement, July 31, 2015)

Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY): “I believe the inspections procedures set forth are flawed – leading nuclear experts assert that, pursuant to these procedures, inspectors would not necessarily know whether Iran is manufacturing uranium components for a nuclear weapon. This is unacceptable. Furthermore, I am deeply concerned that almost all of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would remain intact; this leads me to believe Iran would simply resume its pursuit of a nuclear weapon at the conclusion of the deal in a decade’s time. Finally, the immediate sanctions relief provided Iran in the deal would incentivize the funding of terrorism and lessen Iran’s interest in restraining its nuclear ambitions over the long term.” (NY Democrat on House Foreign Affairs Committee Announces Opposition to Iran Nuke Deal,, July 29, 2015)

Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA): “The deal fails to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program. It fails to guarantee intrusive enough inspections to ensure that Iran does not cheat, and it fails to keep Iran from achieving nuclear-threshold status. This deal is predicated on Iran’s compliance. In exchange for phased and reversible sanctions relief – at approximately $150 billion – the administration promised to cut off Iran’s path to a nuclear bomb. Instead, this agreement gives Iran a rapid payday while legitimizing its path to nuclear-threshold status.” (Why I oppose the president’s nuclear deal with Iran by Juan Vargas, The San Diego Union-Tribune, July 24, 2015)

Rep. David Scott (D-GA): “It’s a good deal for Iran, for Russia, China and probably Hezbollah, but is it not, definitely not a good deal for Israel or for the United States or our allies – especially Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Under this agreement … it allows for Iran to get a nuclear bomb. In essence it sort of permits it too, within the agreement, without Iran having to cheat at all.” (Georgia Democratic Congressman Slams Iran Nuke Deal by Shelby Lin Erdman, WABE 90.1 FM [Atlanta public radio], July 20, 2015)

Other Democratic Party Leaders

J.B. Pritzker, former co-chair for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign: “I am a lifelong Democrat. Like a rapidly expanding list of Democrats across the country, I oppose this deal. [….] For the sake of our values and our security, Congress should reject this deal, leave the sanctions in place, and support efforts to negotiate a better agreement.” (True bipartisanship – oppose the deal by J.B. Pritzker, The Hill, August 20, 2015)

Brad Schneider, former U.S. Congressman (D-IL) and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee: “It was my fervent hope that this deal would achieve the goal of preventing Iran’s nuclear ambitions for generations. I made every effort to find a path to “yes.” But the JCPOA fails the initial threshold test of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. It leaves Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in place, lifts most limits on Iran’s nuclear program in 10-15 years, and over the course of the next 15 years is likely to strengthen the current regime’s hold on power and its nefarious regional influence. As the deal is structured and in the present geo-political context, the prospect of Iran building a nuclear weapon in 15-20 years is too great a risk for us to take.” (Why I cannot support the Iran deal by Brad Schneider, The Times of Israel, August 13, 2015)

Jim Webb, former Senator (D-VA) and 2016 presidential candidate: “I think it’s a bad deal. [….] In the end of this [agreement], what we see is that they [Iran] could have the capability to move forward—basically with our tacit approval—with nuclear weapons. And also, the impact on the region itself: We are in danger of upsetting a very fragile balance of power among Israel, Saudi, and Iran in an agreement like this.” (A Candidate’s Case, Fox News, August 9, 2015)

Gary Ackerman, former Representative (D-NY), vice chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and chair of its Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia: “While I have long argued for negotiations between the U.S. and Iran as a means to stop their nuclear program, the agreement that emerged from these talks simply does not do the job. Stakes are too high to allow for so many loopholes.” (Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran)

Evan Bayh, former Senator (D-IN) and member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services and Select Committee on Intelligence: “Lifting economic sanctions before Iran has made the changes the agreement requires and without ‘anytime, anywhere inspections’ would be a mistake. America needs to keep the pressure on Iran.” (Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran)

Mark Begich, former Senator (D-AK) and member of the Subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs and Subcommittee on Homeland Security of the Senate Committee on Appropriations: “If this deal is approved it will start a dangerous nuclear arms race in the Middle East, as other countries have already said they will obtain their own nuclear weapons in response. A nuclear arms race in the world’s most unstable region is frightening enough, but all these nukes just makes it more likely they will fall into the hands of terrorists.” (Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran)

Shelley Berkley, former Senator (D-NV) and member of House Foreign Affairs Committee and Ways and Means Committee: “This deal will make the world less safe. Iran will be allowed to continue developing intercontinental ballistic missiles, and at best they will be just a year away from a nuclear weapon. In 10 years they will be just weeks away. A deal that prevents anytime, anywhere inspections, as this one does, is a deal that cannot be verified and leaves us trusting Iran too much. Congress should reject this deal.” (Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran)

Peter Deutsch, former Representative (D-FL) and ranking member of the Congressional Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Energy and Commerce Committee: “[T]his process and the resulting deal have been fundamentally flawed from the start. [….] How can we stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons without a mechanism for immediate inspections and open access to their military sites? A bad deal is worse than no deal at all; and this is clearly a bad deal.” (Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran)

Mary Landrieu, former Senator (D-LA) and chair of Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee: “There is sufficient time to renegotiate a better deal, strong incentives for the Iranians and the Europeans to do so, and clear precedents for arms control agreements being sent back by Congress and improved.” (The better alternative to the Iran deal by Mary Landrieu and USMC Gen. Charles C. Krulak, The Hill, August 27, 2015)

Joe Lieberman, former Senator (D-CT) and 2000 Democratic nominee for Vice President, chair of the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee: “This Iran deal is dangerous for America, for Israel and for the world. Iran has violated over 20 international agreements, is the number one sponsor of terrorism in the world, and has been working to acquire nuclear weapons for years. Unfortunately this agreement won’t stop them. We need to reject this deal and demand a better one—an agreement that dismantles Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.” (Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran)


Have I missed any statements from Democratic Members of Congress or party leaders? Please let me know of any additions!

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