WASHINGTON - (Update: Merkley's comments by Twitter after president's talk, and on health care move)
Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement after President Donald Trump’s announcement on decertifying the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal:
“Make no mistake: With his announcement today, President Trump is putting America at risk. Most immediately, this reckless decision could give Iran a path to back out of the nuclear deal and resume its race to a nuclear bomb. A nuclear-armed Iran could become the single greatest national security threat we face and would be an immediate existential threat to Israel. At a time when our own intelligence agencies and every international monitor says that Iran is in compliance with the strict limits and monitoring of the JCPOA, blowing up this agreement is the definition of a self-inflicted wound.
“The fallout of the U.S. going back on our word will reverberate far beyond just Iran. It will hurt our relationship with our European allies, on whom we rely as critical partners in nearly every aspect of international relations. And, at an absolutely crucial moment, it could torpedo efforts to secure international collaboration to end North Korea’s nuclear program. Why would international partners work with us to impose sanctions on North Korea to bring them to the negotiating table, and why would North Korea come, if they know the United States does not live up to its word?
“Senior members of the Trump Administration and our military, from Defense Secretary James Mattis to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Joseph Dunford, have indicated that they think it is in the best interest of the United States to stay in the deal—and that pulling out will profoundly hurt our credibility around the world. It is a sad statement that today President Trump put personal vendettas ahead of the recommendations of his own experts and the safety of the American people.
“In the weeks ahead, Congress will play a critical role in determining whether today’s decision goes forward in a meaningful fashion. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and as a concerned American, I will do everything I can in partnership with my colleagues to prevent this travesty of a decision from going into effect.”
Earlier this week, Merkley penned an op ed laying out in detail how a withdrawal from the JCPOA would harm U.S. security and credibility on the world stage.
In a tweet after Friday's speech, Merkley said Trump "has no idea what he's talking about" and that his "announcement was both factually inaccurate and grasping at straws."
Merkley also released the following statement after President Trump announced late Thursday night that the Trump administration will stop paying health care Cost Sharing Reduction payments.
Without the CSR payments, the senator warned, health insurance rates will see double digit increases—in many cases, 20% or more.
“This is what sabotage looks like. With this action, President Trump is punishing American families for his own legislative failures. Since he couldn’t get Congress to pass his devastating repeal bill, he’s now trying to push the Affordable Care Act to collapse so that his own politically-driven prophecies will come true.
“This announcement is just the latest step in a concerted sabotage campaign, including cutting the 2018 enrollment period in half, virtually eliminating the advertising and community outreach that ensures Americans know about the opportunity to get health care, and scheduled ‘maintenance’ on the enrollment website that will keep it down every Sunday during the open enrollment period.
“Access to health care is a life-or-death issue. Period. This despicable sabotage campaign is the definition of playing politics with people’s lives, and it must end immediately.
“It is essential that Congress rectify Trump’s sabotage in December when we pass the next government funding bill.”