Republican senators are upping their hostile rhetoric toward a deal on Iran's nuclear program days before a final deadline to lock down a long-term agreement.
"It seems to me that using the term 'negotiation' is a stretch," Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP hopes spending traps derail Biden agenda A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Senate passes infrastructure bill, budget resolution; Cuomo resigns MORE (R-Mo.), the vice chairman of the Senate Republican conference, said Wednesday from the Senate floor. "Two years ago, we said things that we would insist on. Two years later, none of those things appear to be things that are still being discussed in these Iranian so-called negotiations.”
Blunt is the latest Republican to weigh in as the Senate prepares to refocus on Iran when it returns from a week-long break after spending the past month debating trade and spending bills.
Negotiators currently face an end-of-the-month deadline, with the administration required to hand over the deal to Congress by July 9 or face a longer congressional review period.
But, Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonDomestic extremists return to the Capitol GOP senator: Buying Treasury bonds 'foolish' amid standoff over debt ceiling, taxes Internal poll shows Barnes with 29-point lead in Wisconsin Democratic Senate primary MORE (R-Wis.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, suggested that it's unlikely the administration will be able to get a "good deal" with Iran, adding that "I think we're being played.”
"I think a deal at this point would be very destabilizing. It would not be a good deal," he added.
Johnson, who faces a potentially tough 2016 reelection bid, pointed to the Iranian parliament's opposition to allowing U.N. inspectors access to military sites, saying that it "puts in doubt any kind of deal.”
Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchCongress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears The national action imperative to achieve 30 by 30 MORE (R-Utah) also took the Senate floor earlier this week, demanding that President Obama explain "what level of confidence he has negotiating with Iran given how it repeatedly violates the international community's mandates with impunity.”
The three Republicans were part of an overwhelming 98-1 vote to give senators the ability to review and vote on the finalized deal. Under the legislation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump seeking challenger to McConnell as Senate GOP leader: report Budget chairman: Debt ceiling fight 'a ridiculous position to be in' Buckle up for more Trump, courtesy of the Democratic Party MORE (R-Ky.) can either bring up a resolution of approval, disapproval or do nothing.
Their remarks come ahead of a Foreign Relations Committee hearing to dig into what needs to be in a final deal.
The administration has also been forced to play defense this week, with both White House press secretary Josh Earnest and State Department spokesman John Kirby reiterating to reporters that Obama believes no deal is better than a bad deal.
But even Republican senators that had previously championed giving the administration room to reach a deal are raising their doubts.
Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Tight security for Capitol rally; Biden agenda slows Trump offers sympathy for those charged with Jan. 6 offenses MORE (R-S.C.), who is running for president, said that if he was the commander-in-chief he would walk away from the negotiations.
"I'd just walk away. It just amazes me that we don't, quite frankly," he said. "I think this deal is deteriorating before our eyes. … If something doesn't change this is a disaster in the making.”
Graham's comments are a sharp turn from his remarks during the Senate's debate on the Iran legislation, when he warned his Republican colleagues that "anyone that monkeys with this bill will run into a buzz saw.”
The South Carolina Republican has repeatedly said that a good deal would be a "blessing," while a bad deal would be "nightmare.”
Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her MORE (R-Tenn.), in a letter to President Obama, called the reported concessions that the administration has made to Iran as part of the talks "breathtaking.”
Corker, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, was instrumental to getting the Iran review legislation through the Senate.
Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Former national security officials warn antitrust bills could help China in tech race Cyber preparedness could save America's 'unsinkable aircraft carrier' MORE (R-Ind.) said that he fears "that this administration is so seemingly, desperately eager for a legacy that it will choose to define any Iranian deal at all as a great success for diplomacy."
Republicans aren’t alone in doubling down on their doubts ahead of the the June 30 deadline. Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden threatens more sanctions on Ethiopia, Eritrea over Tigray conflict Failed drug vote points to bigger challenges for Democrats Overnight Defense & National Security — Blinken heads to the hot seat MORE has taken to the Senate floor on a near weekly basis to lay out his concerns.
The New Jersey Democrat said last week that he is “increasingly concerned” about the “moving of goalposts that move increasingly in the direction of Iran.”
Menendez has been a leading critic of the administration’s negotiations with Iran, while his Democratic colleagues have offered more tempered views.
Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySenators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State Tell our troops: 'Your sacrifice wasn't in vain' Sunday shows preview: Bombing in Kabul delivers blow to evacuation effort; US orders strikes on ISIS-K MORE (D-Conn.) told reporters earlier this month that "everybody knew that the final stages of the negotiations were going to be difficult.”
And Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Emissions heading toward pre-pandemic levels The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - What do Manchin and Sinema want? Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (D-Va.) added that he’s “trying to avoid having too many opinions on details that leak out.”
Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - US speeds evacuations as thousands of Americans remain in Afghanistan Biden finds few Capitol Hill allies amid Afghanistan backlash Trains matter to America MORE (D-Del.) also suggested that he would hold his judgement on a potential final deal until lawmakers see the agreement. He said that a final deal must block Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, allows for "intrusive" inspections, and staggered sanctions relief.
"We are closing in, I hope, on a historic nuclear agreement with Iran," Carper said, adding that he believes negotiators are "hard at work."
—Updated at 6:13 p.m.