Corker to work on getting Republicans, Democrats to agree on Iran nuclear deal fixes

By Andy Sher  |    Chattanooga Times Free Press

NASHVILLE — U.S. Sen. Bob Corker said Friday he will work with his Republican and Democratic colleagues to toughen the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran after President Donald Trump disavowed the agreement and called on Congress to fix it.

The Tennessee Republican, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he hopes for bipartisan agreement but will need the administration to help with that as well as bringing along European allies.

“My job is to deal with circumstances as they are,” said Corker, who noted he is working with Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and hopes to have cooperation from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on Corker’s panel. “I’m hopeful and actually believe we can move to a place that is supported in a bipartisan way.”

“That’s going to be my job,” Corker told reporters before Trump’s announcement, but it’s “also the administration’s job.”

Trump attacked the Iran nuclear deal struck by former President Barack Obama and accused Iran of disregarding the spirit of the agreement, sponsoring terrorism and fomenting trouble across the Mideast.

But the president stopped short, for now, of walking away from the nuclear agreement. Instead, he called on Congress and other nations in the seven-member accord to address problems.

Trump said he wants Congress to create “trigger points” tied to Iranian leaders’ actions that would let the United States reimpose economic sanctions if Iran violates them.

Corker said he plans to introduce legislation next week and begin working through what he called the “normal” legislative processes.

He said he already had been in touch with European ambassadors. But, he noted, “it will be up to the administration to bring our European allies along with us.”

Politico, meanwhile, reported Friday that Corker may have major problems in forging consensus among some fellow Republicans.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told the news site he is “generally skeptical of the ability to fix” the Iran deal.

“I hope I’m wrong. I’m concerned that continuing to adhere to the deal in any capacity has long-term consequences that would make things worse, not better,” Rubio said.

Corker and Trump have been in a public spat. The president attacked the Tennessean on Twitter over the weekend, charging among other things “Bob Corker gave us the Iran Deal, & that’s about it.”

Corker actually opposed the Iran deal and helped forge a bipartisan bill forcing it to come before Congress, where Corker hoped to kill it.

Fifty-eight senators, including Corker, fellow Republicans and some Democrats voted to kill Obama’s accord, two short of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster.

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