Cong. Hill: Iran Deal Doesn’t Meet Its Objectives

The nuclear deal with Iran doesn’t fulfill its objectives, so the United States should continue to enforce sanctions, even if it does so without the support of the United Nations, U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., said Monday.

Speaking to a crowd of community leaders and others at the Speakeasy Coffee Bar in Bryant, Hill said the agreement “does not block the Iranians’ ability to get a nuclear weapon” and unfreezes more than $100 billion in assets for “the number one financiers of state-supported terrorism in the world.” He said Iran would get access to international banking systems in a way that’s counter to the Patriot Act and other laws.

Afterward, Hill said that while the United States may not be able to assemble a large scale, UN-backed coalition, it could create non-UN sanctions in concert with the United Kingdom and France. “America is big enough to have a deleterious effect on Iran’s finances,” he said.

“I believe the sanctions were just beginning to work,” he said. “I’d support Radio Free Iran. I’d support continued negotiations.”

Hill also expressed concerns over cuts to the military that are occurring as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which led to sequestration cuts to defense and discretionary programs. Meanwhile, two-thirds of the budget is mandatory spending, including retirement and health care spending, and isn’t voted on by Congress annually.

Hill said the U.S. House of Representatives had passed six of the annual 12 appropriations bills, working faster than any since 1974, but the Senate had only passed one.

“I like the process,” he said. “I admire that the House can get it done, but it really doesn’t make any difference unless you can get it over the finish line and down to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

Hill hasn’t given up on Congress passing a multi-year highway funding bill. Federal highway funding currently is coming from a series of temporary extensions because Congress can’t agree on how to cover a shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund. He said U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, had asked for the extensions because he is hoping to negotiate a five-year deal with the Senate. Hill said if Congress can’t make a long-term deal by November, it won’t make one for a while.

“I’m hoping Ryan will pull a rabbit out of the hat,” he said.

Hill also discussed his revival of the “Golden Fleece,” a satirical award “given” to a government agency for conspicuous waste of taxpayer money. Hill was working for Sen. John Tower, R-Texas, in the early 1980s when Sen. William Proxmire, D-Wisconsin, was bestowing the award.

“We can all debate about whether the federal government should be involved in doing something, but I know we won’t debate if they do it, they’d better be accountable,” he said.