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story.lead_photo.caption Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. arrives to pose for photographers in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington in this Wednesday, March 11, 2015 file photo. (AP / CAROLYN KASTER )

WASHINGTON -- Members of Arkansas' congressional delegation said Tuesday that they're skeptical of the deal President Barack Obama's administration and other countries negotiated to restrict Iran's nuclear program, though several said they want to read it before passing judgment.

The deal with Tehran was announced Tuesday morning. Congress now has about two months to review the plan. Critics say they'll push for legislation blocking the plan, despite Obama's promise to veto any such effort.

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., a frequent and vocal critic of any attempt to negotiate a deal that permits Iran nuclear capabilities of any kind, pledged to whip up support to stop the plan.

"In the coming weeks I'm going to be working with my colleagues in the Senate and advocating to all Arkansans and all Americans that this is a very dangerous mistake and that we should reject this deal and return to negotiating from a position of strength, not one of weakness and supplication," Cotton said. "It's a bad deal, the American people will repudiate it and therefore Congress, I believe, will kill the deal."

In March, Cotton penned an open letter to Iranian leaders notifying them that a future president could invalidate any deal not approved by Congress. Democrats objected to the letter, which was signed by 46 other Republican senators, saying Cotton and the signing senators shouldn't interfere in foreign policy, which is commonly seen as the president's purview.

Weeks later Congress passed legislation granting itself authority to vote on any final agreement. Cotton was the only senator to object to the legislation, saying the Iranian deal should have been submitted to the Senate as a treaty. That would have required the president to get support from 67 senators rather than opponents having to get 67 senators to oppose it.

The other five lawmakers representing Arkansas on Capitol Hill -- all Republicans -- also have voiced reservations.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman said he thinks members will reject the plan if it is bad.

For now, he's still studying the details.

"The preliminary reading that I see is that I'm very, very concerned and think this is a bad deal, but we need to take our time and read through, carefully, the exact bill," he said. "Right now the Iranians are saying they got everything they want, if that's true that simply can't be too good for us. The truth is going to be in the details."

U.S. Rep. French Hill agreed, saying he doubts any deal will be worthwhile, but wants to get the perspective of those involved in the negotiations and countries near Iran before making a decision.

"I've always described myself as skeptical of the negotiations," he said. "But, I'm going to read the 80 pages or so. I think we have an obligation to read it. Congress needs to exercise its authority now to dig into the details, which we have not had."

Hill, who serves on the House Financial Services Committee's Terrorism Financing Task Force, said he wants to see how the agreement deals with as much as $140 billion belonging to Iran that has been frozen in banks worldwide as part of the sanctions.

He said he is worried that money could be used to finance terrorist activities around the world and wants to know how quickly sanctions can be reapplied if Iran violates its commitments.

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack said he still needs to read the plan closely, but "I have said many times that if there is an international issue that keeps me awake at night, it's the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran."

"I'm not confident at all that the deal that has been struck is in the best interest of our country, our allies and the world at large. I have the history of Iran itself as a basis for my argument," Womack said. "I don't think it's a simple matter of just detesting anything that the Obama administration does. I think it is a legitimate concern that has been raised about the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran."

Womack said if legislation to block the deal passes there will likely be enough votes to override a presidential veto in the House, but is uncertain whether the Senate will follow suit.

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford said the United States never should have bargained with Tehran.

"I was against negotiating with Iran since the get-go. I just didn't see the point," Crawford said. "I still think its a bad [deal] based on what we're conceding and what they are getting."

He said the deal seems to assume that Iranian leaders will improve their behavior before the restrictions expire in 10 years.

"They have a long history demonstrated of not getting better and not wanting to be a productive part of the global community," Crawford said.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman said he'll likely oppose the deal.

"I'm a 'no' unless there's some big revelation that comes out," he said.

Westerman said he was alarmed by recent video of Iranian leaders marching with people shouting "death to America" and "death to Israel."

"I just have to question whether those are the types of people we want to negotiate with," Westerman said. "I think we should keep the sanctions in place."

Metro on 07/15/2015

Print Headline: Skepticism high for Arkansas' 6


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Archived Comments

  • Nodmcm
    July 15, 2015 at 5:50 a.m.

    These guys want a war with Iran. The Republicans got to have their wars with Afghanistan and Iraq, and both turned out so well, they are ready for another one with Iran. It will only cost about three trillion dollars to invade and conquer Iran. Just think, Halliburton and other Republican crony corporations can get in there and make billions! Because America will again be at war, Republicans can get the NSA to again tap everyone's phones, to "keep America safe." A war with Iran would be the greatest thing that could happen for Republicans, especially for the combat veteran and "war senator," our own Tom Cotton, who would be front and center leading the charge, as he has been as of late. Republicans figure if they can drive up the debt enough, maybe Americans will agree to get rid of Social Security and Medicare, since after spending trillions on an Iran war, American "won't be able to afford" these programs to help keep the elderly out of poverty. If Republicans can get a war going with Iran, it will be a brilliant stroke for them. We'll see.

  • TuckerMax
    July 15, 2015 at 6:34 a.m.

    The whole story is in the first paragraph: "though several said they want to read it before passing judgment." "If Obama did it, I'm opposed. I might read it before saying more." Our Congressmen are putzes. 59% of American's are for it, and 73% in Oklahoma. Republicans in Congress are afraid to agree with Obama. Putzes. Republicans would rather have war than peace anytime. “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” --George Orwell, 1984.

  • Foghorn
    July 15, 2015 at 9:42 a.m.

    It's patently stupid that AR's elected officials ALL reject the deal out of hand WITHOUT HAVING READ IT YET. If I said the BIble is full of lies and will lead believers to bad behavior, but I hadn't actually read it myself, I would get lots of pushback. Why aren't Arkansans screaming at these a**clowns to READ the thing PRIOR to rejecting it. Just goes to show how quickly they're willing to bend over for Israel.

  • Pobucker
    July 15, 2015 at 10:08 a.m.

    I guess they could do it the liberal way, lol.

  • BirdDogsRock
    July 15, 2015 at 10:22 a.m.

    " ... several said they want to read it before passing judgment."
    A classic line! Sure wouldn't want any of Arkansas' congressional delegation "pulling a Pelosi" by passing judgment before reading it to learn what is in it. Of course, I have complete trust (but I still insist on verifying) that Senator Cotton had carefully studied the entire 90-page agreement before being so critical of it.

  • Dondi
    July 15, 2015 at 11:07 a.m.

    Hey, Tommy what is wrong Peace?

  • carpenterretired
    July 15, 2015 at 2:17 p.m.

    It could be reasonable to be skeptical of the ability of these six to understand what they read about this deal as their knowledge of nuclear technology may well be limited to nuking a hotdog in a micro wave .

  • Ouachita9
    July 15, 2015 at 6:30 p.m.

    @Nodmcm. At first I thought your comment was sarcasm. Now I'm wondering if you aren't a paranoid delusional. But, no worries, listen to this from your favorite liberal radio network and maybe you'll get a little idea of why people are worried that this deal will lead to a nuclear armed Iran.
    Google: "NPR Framework Deal Raises Questions About Inspection Of Iranian Nuclear Sites"

  • Garycmillerlawgmailcom
    July 15, 2015 at 7:25 p.m.

    Don't worry, no matter what the deal is, a Republican president can always come up with a pretense to justify war.

  • Pobucker
    July 17, 2015 at 5:37 p.m.

    What makes the Iran deal so infuriating to Obama’s critics is that It codifies the limits of American power. And recognizing the limits of American power also means recognizing the limits of American exceptionalism. It means recognizing that no matter how deeply Americans believe in their country’s unique virtue, the United States is subject to restraints in world politics. For the Republican right, that’s a deeply unwelcome direction to go.