Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Aug. 31 during a week-long trip to Israel to discuss the Iran nuclear energy deal.
Cotton, considered one of the more hawkish members of the Senate, has railed against the deal for months. He penned a letter that was sent to Iranian leaders in March warning that any deal made with the United States will be removed after the next president takes over in January 2017.
The meeting between Cotton and Netanyahu also comes just weeks before lawmakers will return to the Capitol building to debate the Iran deal. Republicans likely have enough votes to deny a resolution allowing the Obama administration to remove economic sanctions from Iran, which have crippled the nation’s weak economy for years. However, President Barack Obama has promised the use of a veto and GOP members do not yet have enough votes to override it.
Both Cotton and Netanyahu have opposed the peace deal, which they believe will only allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon faster and with more financing. Cotton released a statement following the meeting to affirm his relationship with the Prime Minister.
“Today’s meeting only reaffirms my opposition to this deal,” Cotton said. “I will stand with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel and work with my colleagues in Congress to stop this deal and to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself against Iran and its terrorist surrogates.”
While Cotton has never supported the deal, his most recent criticism has been directed at side deals between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In the side deals, Iran will be able to decide when and where inspections of their nuclear facilities can occur, The Hill reported.
Currently, the Obama administration has 31 of the 34 votes needed to block an override of the presidential veto. While 54 Republicans and two democrats have voiced their opposition to the Iran deal, there are still 13 votes that are unknown -- all of them members of the Democratic party.
Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Mark Warner of Virginia may be the best chance for the GOP to influence more voters to join their efforts to stop the Iran deal.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/United States Congress, Tom Cotton/Twitter