Lawmaker who represents captured American will support Iran deal

Lawmaker who represents captured American will support Iran deal
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A House Democrat who represents a man held captive in Iran since 2011 said on Thursday that he will support the multinational deal to limit Tehran's nuclear powers.

Rep. Dan KildeeDaniel (Dan) Timothy Kildee Flint lawmaker pushes bill to lower lead levels in drinking water House adopts Flint water measures in spending bill House members, staff offered blood testing after lead found in water MORE (D-Mich.) told the Associated Press in an interview that “it’s very clear to me that the agreement is the best path forward.”

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One of Kildee’s constituents, Amir Mirza Hekmati, is a Marine veteran who has been imprisoned in Iran for longer than any other American.

He was arrested three and a half years ago while visiting his ailing grandmother, charged with espionage and sentenced to death. After an appeal, he was charged with "cooperating with hostile governments" and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Kildee’s announcement is a boost for the Obama administration, which has been scurrying to corral Democrats to unify behind the agreement.

Republicans are expected to vote in a bloc to kill the deal, and the White House is depending on Democrats to serve as a firewall to preserve President Obama’s veto.

"This agreement allows us to prevent [Iran] from gaining a nuclear weapon, and if they cheat we will know it,” Kildee said. “If we don't have the agreement, we don't have that certainty.”

Among other criticisms, opponents of the deal have railed on the Obama administration during the course of the months-long negotiations for ignoring the plight of Hekmati and three other Americans believed to be held in Iranian custody. In addition to Hekmati, the Iranian government has also imprisoned a Washington Post reporter and an American pastor.

A fourth man disappeared while on a CIA mission eight years ago and is also believed to be in Iranian hands.

Kildee has been an advocate for the imprisoned Americans, and earlier this year introduced legislation calling for their release.

The Obama administration has maintained that negotiators needed to keep the fate of the prisoners separate from the nuclear agreement so as to not give Iran any extra leverage, and to focus solely on preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb.  

“Those issues are not connected,” Obama told reporters earlier this month, after being challenged on the arrangement.