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Rep. Dan Lipinski to oppose Iran nuclear deal

WASHINGTON – Rep. Dan Lipinski said Friday he will vote against the Iran nuclear agreement, becoming the first Illinois House Democrat to oppose the pact.

Congress returns from summer break next Tuesday and will take up the agreement, which is on track to prevail, since 34 senators, all Democratic, have announced their support.

With Lipinski’s announcement, that leaves Rep. Bill Foster, Rep. Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Mike Quigley, all Democrats, the only undecided lawmakers in the Illinois congressional delegation. All the Illinois Republican House members are against the agreement.

Duckworth’s decision will come as she is running for the Senate seat now held by Sen. Mark Kirk R-Ill., one of the most vehement opponents of the Iran deal in Congress. Duckworth’s Democratic primary rival, attorney Andrea Zopp, said she would vote for it if she were in Congress.

Lipinski told the Sun-Times in a statement, “After careful consideration, I believe that we would have a better chance for peace by rejecting this deal, keeping our sanctions on Iran, and working to improve this agreement.”

He said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action “gives Iran too much, and requires them to give up too little. Over the short and long terms it is likely to make the United States and the world less secure and produce more conflict.

“The Middle East is engulfed in numerous wars and Iran continues to be one of the worst provocateurs in the region. Hamas, Hezbollah, Assad’s regime in Syria, the Houthis in Yemen, and Shiite militias in Iraq are all current beneficiaries of Iran’s support – and they all have been or continue to be threats to the U.S. or its allies. And this is being done while Iran is under harsh economic sanctions that limit its access to revenue.

“At the core of my opposition to the JCPOA is its failure to meet many of the Administration’s stated negotiating goals plus the surprise addition of relief from sanctions on Iran’s access to conventional military weapons and ballistic missile technology.

In the first round, Republicans – who all oppose the deal – have the votes to pass a resolution of disapproval. President Barak Obama said he will veto the measure.

Opponents and supporters mount a heavy push of lobbying here next week knowing that there are not enough votes in the Senate to over-ride Obama’s veto.

The Obama White House and the House Democrats have been rolling out the names of supporters in the past weeks in order to build momentum.

On Wednesday, Rep. Robin Kelly D-Ill., announced she will back the deal between Iran and six nations, including the U.S. And late last month, Rep. Cheri Bustos D-Ill. also voiced her support.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky D-Ill., was an early supporter and is one of House Democratic Leaders Nancy Pelosi’s whips looking to round up backing in the House. Sen. Dick Durbin D-Ill., is leading the charge in the Senate. Democrats Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Danny Davis and Bobby Rush will also back the deal.

Kelly said in a statement, “After careful consideration, I have decided to support the Iranian Nuclear Deal. This is not a decision I arrived at lightly. Over the past few weeks, I listened to the opinions and concerns of my constituents and met with people from all walks of life.

“I heard impassioned arguments on both sides of the issue. It’s clear that Americans want security against the threat of a nuclear Iran. This deal, while certainly not perfect, is the best option available to us in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Bustos said in a statement, ““After weeks of thought and consultation, I have decided to support the nuclear agreement with Iran because it is the best path forward to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.”