A freshman US senator is wasting no time letting his new colleagues know he plans to be aggressive on national security and foreign policy matters.
Just three weeks after being sworn in, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., sent a message about how he views his role on issues like Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.
“So first, I would say that I think it was a mistake to ever go down this path,” Cotton said, referring to the Obama administration’s decision to enter into talks with Iranian leaders.
The former House member minced few words in describing his view of the Iranian regime and its intentions.
“Iran is a radical Islamist theocracy whose constitution calls for jihad,” he said during a Senate Banking Committee hearing where the panel easily approved a bill that would slap new sanctions on Iranian individuals and businesses.
“Its leaders have honored that constitution for 35 years, killing Americans in 1983, killing Americans in 1996, having a nasty habit with their proxies of killing Jews all around the world in Argentina and Bulgaria and in Israel,” Cotton said.
“And most recently, controlling or exerting dominant influence over five different capitals in the Middle East — Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and now Sanaa,” he added.
Cotton struck a hawkish tone, saying he “would rather see these negotiations end because I think the administration is committed to a deal at all costs or committed to dragging out negotiations and letting Iran achieve in slow motion what they otherwise could not achieve through a deal.”
Cotton offered two strict amendments, but the panel shot down both.
One would have altered the Iran sanctions bill — crafted by Banking Committee members Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., also the Foreign Relations Commitee’s ranking member — to make all its new sanctions effective July 6. As the duo crafted those penalties, they will be phased in over a series of months.
The other Cotton amendment would have limited President Barack Obama’s ability to waive existing waivers to one more 30-day period.
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