Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday rejected President Barack Obama's argument that rejecting the Iran nuclear deal means going to war, Reuters reports.
McConnell said it was "absurd" to argue that lawmakers must essentially choose between the agreement and going to war and added that Obama made a "huge mistake" with that argument.
He was responding to a speech by Obama on Wednesday, in which the president repeatedly accused opponents to the deal of wanting war instead.
"It's not this deal versus war. That's the argument they've been making during the whole negotiation. It's either this deal or a better deal, or more sanctions," said McConnell, according to Reuters.
Arguing that the choice is between diplomacy or some form of war is “an absurd argument,” added McConnell.
The Senate leader also complained that the president had treated the Iran debate like a political campaign when he said that Tehran hardliners were "making common cause" with Republican lawmakers.
McConnell is not the only lawmaker to reject Obama’s remarks. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) slammed Obama earlier Thursday for saying Republicans are in the same camp with Iranian hardliners when they oppose the nuclear deal with Iran.
"[The president] is trying to shut down debate by saying that those who have questions — legitimate questions, legitimate questions — are somehow unpatriotic, are somehow compared to hardliners in Iran," the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman said. “And again it is to shut down debate. It is to make this about something other than the merits of the deal."
Congressman Peter Roskam (R-IL), meanwhile, told Fox News that Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have made a "flawed argument" in supporting the deal.
"Their argument was you either go with this deal or we’re going to war. But all during the negotiations…they said a different thing. They said ‘no deal is better than a bad deal.’ And if you argue no deal is better than a bad deal, then you’re arguing implicitly that there was an alternative. And it’s a false claim now for the White House to say there’s no alternative but war."
Roskam remarked on Obama's "failure" on Tuesday, when leading Democratic Reps. Nita Lowey and Steve Israel, both of New York, and Ted Deutch of Florida announced their opposition to the Iran deal. They were later followed by Senator Chuck Schumer who announced late on Thursday he would oppose the deal as well
"Without a doubt, the Democrats in Congress are going to make the decision on this, and they’re going to have a huge responsibility moving forward. So, three leading Democrats yesterday came out against it, some Democrats are coming out in favor of it."
Congress continues to review the deal that was reached last month between Iran and six world powers and has until September 17 to accept or reject it.
Republicans have objected to the deal as not tough enough to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon in the long run, while several Democrats have expressed support.
Obama has threatened to veto any legislation passed by Congress blocking the deal, but Roskam said on Monday he was confident a new Congressional resolution calling to end the Iran nuclear deal would secure the support of two-thirds of lawmakers, thus rendering Obama unable to veto it.