Ted Lieu, in Waxman’s Seat, Uncertain on Iran Deal

U.S. Rep Ted Lieu (Joel Pollak / Breitbart News)
Joel Pollak / Breitbart News

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) remains on the fence about the Iran deal. Lieu replaced veteran Democrat Henry Waxman, one of the most pro-Israel members of Congress for four decades, earlier this year.

In a July 15 statement, Lieu, who represents the diverse and overwhelmingly liberal 33rd congressional district, tread cautiously on support for the deal, saying he would evaluate its key provisions before making a decision.

“As Congress starts the clock on 60 days of review and oversight,” Lieu said, “I plan to comb through the text, listen to the views of my constituents and speak to key stakeholders to evaluate whether the agreement meets a singular criterion: Are we safer both in the short term, and 8, 10 and 15 years from now?  Many of the most critical provisions in this agreement expire.”

Lieu said he would pay “particular attention” to the veracity of the Iranian nuclear inspection process, dispute resolution mechanisms and sanctions relief conditions. He criticized the short-term expiration dates of the ballistic missile and arms embargo sanctions.

“This last minute concession,” Lieu said of the five and eight-year expiration dates, respectively, on those provisions, “gives Iran the ability to use the hundreds of billions of dollars it will receive during the course of this agreement to engage in more arms trafficking and ballistic missile development.”

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal this week, Lieu said his constituents, who include a large number of Iranian-American refugees from that country’s Islamic Revolution, remain deeply divided over support for the deal.

“I have Iranian-Americans that support the deal and Iranian-Americans that oppose the deal,” Lieu told the paper. “They’re very, very passionate on both sides.”

Lieu added that both Iranian-Americans who fled the country after the Islamic Revolution and Iranian-American Jews are more likely to oppose the deal in its current form.

That observation is in line with a poll conducted late last month that found that a plurality of American Jews (45 percent) now oppose the nuclear deal, and were even more likely to oppose it after learning what it contains.

With a Congressional vote on the Iran deal expected in September, Lieu certainly has time to hear his constituents’ views on its efficacy. According to a recent Iran deal “Whip List” compiled by the Hill, at least 13 other House Democrats remain undecided on support for the bill.

On Tuesday, Lieu joined 21 freshman Democrat representatives on a trip to Israel led by Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD). The delegation will meet with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, and the trip could play a key role in House Democrats’ decision to support or oppose the deal.

However, Lieu’s July 29 statement about his participation in the trip included no mention of what, if any, impact the visit could have on his own decision to support or oppose the deal.

“I look forward to learning more about one of America’s closest allies and gaining a deeper understanding of security challenges in the region, such as the plight of Syrian Civil War victims and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,” Lieu said in his statement.

A representative for Lieu did not respond to repeated requests for comment from Breibart News.