In an op-ed with former Governor Tom Ridge as well as on a conference call with reporters this morning, Pennsylvania Junior Senator Pat Toomey has called out the Obama administration for not re-imposing sanctions on Iran after they have violated the nuclear agreement.
The Senator stated that he wanted to “bring a spotlight because it is a dangerous issue”, pointing out that Iran test launched new long range nuclear missiles in October, and have been shipping weapons over to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In the op-ed, the Senator called the agreement “completely farcical”, quoting the State Department as saying “The JCPOA is not a treaty or an executive agreement and is not a signed document. The JCPOA reflects political commitments.”
The Senator fears that Iran is simply making it seem as if they are obliging by the agreement because they are in line for $100 billion with the sanctions being lifted.
He is urging lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, mentioning Democrats who have been critical like Delaware Senator Chris Coons and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, to pressure the Obama Administration into keeping the sanctions on Iran, although he has mentioned he has not talked to anyone specifically yet, waiting instead for his return to Washington to do that.
Toomey has a had a history of reaching across the aisle, in 2013 he teamed up with West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin to write an amendment in regards to background checks, although it ultimately did not pass.
Without any primary opposition, the Senator can afford to be more bipartisan, which could be the difference in a state that often goes blue in presidential years.
At the same time, he must also keep his distance from a President unpopular with conservatives. One of the best ways to do that is to emphasize an issue, like the Iran deal, on which the two vehemently disagree.