WASHINGTON — Lawmakers representing Long Island in Congress split along party lines in reaction to President Donald Trump’s announcement Tuesday to withdraw from the Iran deal and reimpose U.S. sanctions.
Democrats said Trump put the United States at risk by dividing it from its allies and pulling out of the deal without a comprehensive strategy. But Republicans said that Trump had made the tough call to end a fatally flawed deal that failed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
“The greatest worries from Iran are not right now the nuclear side, but rather what they are doing in Syria, what they are doing to arm Hezbollah with rockets, what they’re doing with ICBMs,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
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“The right thing to do would have been to try and come up with . . . an agreement on those issues,” he said.
But Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said, “President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal is the right decision,” because the deal has “propped up the wrong regime, providing Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, with a jackpot of up to $150 billion in sanctions relief.”
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said Trump had to act to prevent Iran from returning to nuclear weapon development when the deal expired and, in the meantime, to prevent closer economic ties between Iran and other countries and companies.
“It was a decision that had to be made at some time, and it was better to make sooner rather than later,” King said.
Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), who came out against the deal during his successful 2016 campaign, said nevertheless that he did not support Trump’s actions. “My preference would have been, over the next 90 days, to work with our friends and allies to strengthen the deal, to extend its effectiveness and to address Iran’s other harmful and deeply troubling activities,” he said.
Suozzi added that “abandoning the Iran deal without an alternative comprehensive strategy seems to be taking an unnecessary high-stakes risk.”
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), a deal supporter in 2015, criticized Trump, saying withdrawal “sabotages a deal that is working as designed. In so doing, he has set us on a perilous course forward.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who also supported the deal in 2015, called Trump’s action “shortsighted and dangerous.”
She said, “This unilateral decision will cost us the ability to maintain a strong coalition holding Iran accountable and the ability to increase leverage and oversight with our European allies. It also severely undermines our country’s credibility as a partner that can be trusted.”
CORRECTION: Rep. Gregory Meeks supported the Iran deal in 2015. The year was incorrect in a previous version of this story.