It took years of negotiation and diplomacy to bring about today's historic deal between Iran and world powers. Iran has agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.
Now, the White House has to sell this deal to Congress and it could wind up being one of the biggest political fights of the Obama presidency. Congress has 60 days to dissect the terms of the agreement.
U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, says that his initial thoughts on the deal aren’t encouraging.
First, he tells us that Iran’s history of breaking and ignoring agreements is troubling.
Additionally, Huizenga points out that Iran is viewed as the world’s leader in state-sponsored terrorism.
“I’m afraid that this may very well spark a nuclear arms race within the Middle East,” he says.
President Obama has said that no deal would mean no lasting nuclear restrictions on Iran, and that could encourage other nations in the region to pursue their own nuclear assets, but as far as Huizenga is concerned the deal presented by the White House doesn’t pass the smell test.
“I just don’t buy where the president is going with this, and there’s just way too many pitfalls,” he tells us. “We need to maintain that pressure rather than just turning it over wholesale and allowing, for example, arms to be imported.”
Even as the two countries tentatively approach this deal, there are still American citizens being held captive by Iran.
U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, has been fighting for the release of former Flint resident Amir Hekmati and other Americans. Hekmati has been held prisoner since 2011 when he was arrested under suspicion of being a spy.
But the release of Hekmati and others was not included in the nuclear deal. Kildee endorses this decision. While he has long been working toward their release, he doesn't want it to come at the cost of the U.S. giving into Iran's demands.
"We don't want to trade the freedom of an innocent American for a provision that makes the world a less safe place," Kildee says.
Instead, Kildee hopes the added spotlight on Iran will put pressure on them to release the individuals as a sign of their full intentions to adhere to the negotiated terms.
Kildee says the captives’ freedom "doesn't require any negotiations, it doesn't require a counter-party, it doesn't really require much other than their willingness to release these individuals."
Until Hekmati and others are released, Kildee intends to continue to spread their story, saying he won’t allow it to be lost in the discussion of the deal.
As for how he will vote, Kildee says he will be taking a closer look at the agreement "to determine whether, in its totality, it makes the world a safer place."
“We’ll find out what exact details are in there to see where we can agree,” Huizenga says. “I’m just afraid in the broad brushstrokes at this point it’s headed in the wrong direction.”