Sen. Cotton: Reid 'scared' of Iran debate

Sen. Cotton: Reid 'scared' of Iran debate
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Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.) blasted Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidMcConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill Kamala Harris to young Black women at conference: 'I want you to be ambitious' Obama calls filibuster 'Jim Crow relic,' backs new Voting Rights Act bill MORE (D-Nev.) on Tuesday for suggesting that Democrats could prevent a vote on legislation disapproving the Iran nuclear deal.

"Harry Reid wants to deny the American people a voice entirely by blocking an up-or-down vote on this terrible deal," Cotton, a leading Republican critic of the agreement, said in a statement.

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"He is obstructing because he is scared," he added. "He knows that a majority of Americans and Senators oppose this dangerous deal, and that its only chance for survival is if he and the president ram it down the throats of the American people." 

Reid told reporters in Nevada that he hoped Democrats could stop the Senate from moving forward with legislation disapproving the deal — which would lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on its nuclear program — by denying Republicans the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.

"As far as procedurally stopping this bill from moving forward, I hope — I know it's a long shot — but I hope that it can be done," Reid said, according to CNN. 

Republicans have warned Democrats not to filibuster the Iran bill, arguing the Senate should be allowed to have an up-or-down vote.

Kristen Orthman, a spokeswoman for Reid, said Republicans have only themselves to blame.

"If Senator Cotton is upset with the 60-vote threshold, we recommend he discuss it with the Republican leadership since they were responsible for bringing the bill to the floor that set up a 60-vote threshold," Orthman told CNN.

With 54 Republicans expected to vote to disapprove the Iran deal, along with two Democrats, GOP leaders will need the support of at least four more Democrats to reach 60 votes.

With an increasing number of Democrats coming out in favor of the deal, it's unclear whether Republicans will get there.

Cotton said if it weren't for legislation from Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and ranking member Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Congress would not even be able to weigh in on the deal.

"If Harry Reid has his way, Congress won’t even get the little oversight we were provided in Corker-Cardin," Cotton said. 

"The Congress and the president should speak with one voice when it comes to dealing with the Iranians, but it seems that Harry Reid believes that only his and the president’s voices matter," he added.

Congress has until Sept. 17 to pass a resolution of approval or disapproval on the Iran deal.

If a resolution of disapproval passes, the president has vowed to veto it. Republicans would then need two-thirds majorities in both houses to override the veto, something both Republicans and Democrats say is unlikely. 

Cotton wrote a controversial letter to Iranian leaders as the deal was being negotiated warning that the next administration could scrap it.

The freshman senator also highlighted the existence of arrangements between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran, which raised questions over whether the administration was submitting to Congress all documents called for under the Corker-Cardin bill.