Both Rep. Donald Norcross (D – N.J.) and Rep. Brendan Boyle (D – Pa.) have announced that they will stand on principle and oppose the nuclear deal with Iran (a/k/a, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA.) I know almost nothing about either of these legislators, but I have tremendous respect for them. They are both freshmen and yet they have both announced that they will stand against their party’s leader, President Barack Obama, even though the President has made it clear that the JCPOA is a priority. I have little doubt that both men understand the risk; the administration has made it clear that it will not tolerate apostasy.

I give a lot of credit to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D – N.Y.) too, because he may have jeopardized his chances of a spot in the leadership by announcing his opposition to the JCPOA. The New York Daily News reported:

Josh Earnest, President Obama’s spokesman, ripped Schumer Friday after the senior New York senator broke with the President over the nuclear deal with Iran.

Earnest all but encouraged Senate Democrats to consider Schumer’s opposition to the pact when they vote next year to elect a new Democratic leader.

Earnest said he “would not be surprised” if Democrats consider Schumer’s stance on Iran when that vote occurs, and noted the White House has not taken a position on the leadership election.

The Daily News defended Schumer in an editorial; the White House remained silent on the disgusting attacks levied against him.

Schumer, to be sure, deserves credit for risking a coveted position to stand on principle, but he’s established; Norcross and Boyle are not.

Both Norcross and Boyle had well-considered statements opposing the JCPOA. Norcross delivered his at a synagogue in Cherry Hill, N.J., outside of Philadelphia.

Iran must never be allowed to become a nuclear threat to the world. Not today. Not ten or fifteen years from now. Never.

The Iranian regime is a known sponsor of terrorism that has made no secret of its hatred for both the United States and Israel. Providing relief for them by lifting economic sanctions now essentially rewards past behavior and infuses billions of dollars into the their economy that could be used to buy more weapons and outsource more terror. Moreover, the deal does not provide enough assurance that Iran will be restricted from developing or acquiring nuclear weapons. So this windfall may ultimately help fund their nuclear ambitions.

In April, prior to the announcement of a deal, I wrote a letter to President Obama, voicing my concerns over the negotiations with Iran and missed deadlines. In it, I outlined my belief that an acceptable deal would be long-term and fully transparent, and would provide for the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program verified by intrusive inspections in exchange for phased sanctions relief. Unfortunately, the JCPOA falls short in each of these criteria.

It’s interesting that Norcross emphasized the missed deadlines. The original Joint Plan of Action was approved in November 2013, but the rollout didn’t begin until January 2014. It was supposed last for six months, with options to renew the term. Instead of reaching agreements, the administration allowed Iran to miss deadlines.

Nothing says that you want a deal at any cost like letting the other side miss its deadlines with no penalty.

He also was clear that any deal that would allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon is a bad deal.

Boyle’s opposition was announced in an op-ed over the weekend. His opposition was more detailed than was Norcross’; he shared Norcross’ objection to allowing Iran to benefit via billions of unfrozen assets. His other objections addressed the 24 day notice given to Iran before inspections can take place, and the lifting of limits on Iran’s nuclear program after 15 years.

Both Norcross and Boyle took to heart President Obama’s acknowledgement that in the later years of the deal, Iran would have breakout times that “would have shrunk almost down to zero.”

Boyle went further than to just list his objections to the deal; he also pushed back against two of the assertions made by the administration in defense of the deal. First, he argued that there is an alternative to the deal.

When faced with objections to the agreement, proponents often ask: So what is the alternative? They argue that the deal, as flawed as it may be, is still preferable to no deal. But this is simply not so.

We would be better off with no deal, which would ensure that Iran does not get $56 billion it can use to funnel to Hamas and Hezbollah. While some of the international sanctions would fray if the deal were rejected (especially those from Russia and China), our sanctions would remain. I would much prefer the imperfect status quo over a post-agreement world in which Iran is flush with cash for its terror proxies and free to develop a full-fledged nuclear program in merely 15 years.

As to the administration’s argument that the alternative to the deal is war, Boyle wrote that the opposite is true.

Releasing billions of dollars to Iran will result in more rockets in Lebanon and Gaza. These will be used against Israel, as similar weapons have been for the last seven years. With more cash for more rockets, these attacks will likely happen again, increasing the odds that Israel again will respond militarily. Only this time, the Israeli wars with Lebanon and Gaza will last longer, and there will be higher casualty numbers.

Boyle is the sixth Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee to announce his or her opposition to the JCPOA.

Maybe in the end, both Norcross and Boyle will emerge from this political battle unscathed—and I hope that they do. They did something rare in politics: they stood up for principle in spite of the likely cost.

[Photo: Donald Norcross / YouTube ]


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