The Senate prides itself as being the saucer that cools heated legislation that occasionally comes from the more raucous House of Representatives.
But things percolated to almost a House-like boil Thursday during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s hearing into the nuclear deal with Iran forged by the Obama administration and five world powers.
Lofty rhetoric gave way to terms like “fleeced” and “bamboozled” to describe what Secretary of State John Kerry got from negotiations with the Tehran government to stem its nuclear program.
Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who prides himself on being an honest broker, didn’t hide his disdain for the deal, telling Kerry that “Not unlike a hotel guest that leaves only with a hotel bathrobe on his back, I believe you’ve been fleeced.”
About an hour or so after the remark exploded on social media, Corker tried to soften the blow by taking the “you” out of initial comment. “We’ve been fleeced,” Corker amended.
Anyone who believes this is a good deal really joins the ranks of the most naive people on the face of the Earth.
Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho
After Corker’s first “fleece,” Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., the committee’s ranking Democrat, urged senators to leave their emotions out of the debate over the nuclear agreement, something that Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, initially endorsed.
“This should be done in a non-emotional way,” Risch concurred. “But that doesn’t mean we gotta leave common sense out of this, with all due respect.”
After giving the deal a cursory review, Risch said he’s come to the conclusion that “anyone who believes this is a good deal really joins the ranks of the most naïve people on the face of the Earth.”
“With all due respect,” Risch said to Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, “you guys have been bamboozled, and the American people are going to pay for it.”
That was too much for Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., to bear. Reeling off a list a countries were either involved in negotiating the nuclear deal or support it, Boxer asked Kerry, “So my colleagues think that you were fleeced, that you were bamboozled, that means everybody was fleeced and bamboozled, everybody, almost everybody in the world?”
But Boxer’s scolding didn’t stop Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., from taking jabs at Kerry.
“I hope the next president is somebody that will remove the national security waiver and re-impose the congressional sanctions passed by Congress, because this deal is fundamentally and irrevocably flawed,” said Rubio, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate.
Kerry, at times, gave as good as he got. At one point, Kerry told Rubio, “You know, I listened to a long list of your objections here about it (the nuclear deal), but there’s no alternative that you or anybody else has proposed…”
“I sure have, Secretary Kerry,” Rubio interrupted. “I have.”
“And I am confident that the next president of the United States will have enough common sense that if this is being applied properly, if it’s being fully implemented, they’re not just going to arbitrarily end it,” Kerry concluded.