Two of the most prominent GOP senators in Washington have said they don’t expect a deal with Iran to be possible before the end of this month, as Congress prepares to leave town.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Wednesday that he was skeptical of the agreement the Obama administration has negotiated with Iran, and that he wants to see a comprehensive agreement in place by March.
Graham, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters in Washington that he has not seen the Iran deal, but believes that it is “too early to say what it will look like.”
“I think we’re in the process of evaluating the situation.
But I do believe we should be in the position where we have the flexibility to have a good deal and we don’t have to do the job of trying to get it through a Congress that doesn’t want to do it,” Graham said.
The South Carolina senator’s comments came a day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, Ky.) told reporters that he had not seen a draft of the Iran agreement that he is considering.
A draft of an Iran agreement could be presented to Congress next week.
McConnell has said he is open to the agreement if he sees a way to get Democrats to vote for it.
But Graham said he had a hard time believing the Iran negotiations would be a success if the administration did not come to Congress with a deal.
“The thing that we don’s have right now is an agreement,” Graham told reporters.
“We don’t know how that agreement will be implemented.
We don’t even know how much money will be spent on it.
We can’t even get an idea of how much of that will actually get spent.”
Graham and other Republicans have said the White House, which is working with Democrats to reach a deal, has been disingenuous in its effort to sell a deal that does not include sanctions relief and some restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program.
Senators are already threatening to move ahead with the vote on the Iran sanctions legislation, but that could be put on hold if Republicans vote against the legislation.
A similar standoff occurred in 2016 when Democrats in the Senate blocked President Donald Trump’s nomination of Robert Lighthizer to serve as secretary of state.