A top Democratic and Republican senator agreed Sunday about the urgent need to address the global terror threat and Iran’s nuclear program but disagreed on possible solutions and other issues, underscoring the reality that Washington remains as divided as ever.
Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, told “Fox News Sunday” that he’s not seeing the leadership from President Obama to stop the worldwide terror threat -- including the growth of the Islamic State in Syria.
“As long as ISIS is not losing, they are perceived as winning,” he said. "We have to defeat ISIS. We can’t let them continue threatening the rest of the world for years. … This is not a threat that is going away. It’s growing. It’s metastasizing.”
He also said the United States “has to assume” there are sleeper cells inside the country capable of carrying out deadly attacks like the recent ones in Paris.
Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Fox News that he agrees with Obama, who doesn’t want a “protracted ground campaign” in Syria.
“The president is right, this is a complicated situation,” he continued. “It’s important that ground support be done by those in the country.”
Johnson and Cardin agreed that the U.S. should impose tougher sanction on Iran for failing to make final an agreement to curtail its nuclear enrichment program, which appears to be toward building a nuclear bomb.
“Imposing additional sanctions is the only way to bring Iran to the table in good faith,” Johnson said.
He also said he had “no faith” in the Obama administration’s ability to negotiate a good deal.
Obama has repeatedly told Congress, and as recently as Friday, that imposing sanctions could jeopardize efforts by the U.S. and five other world powers to strike a deal with Iran by the June 30 deadline.
Cardin agreed that tougher sanctions are needed but said: “The only issue now is when. That’s the issue and discussions being taken up now.”
Johnson opposes the release of the remaining detainees at the U.S. prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“The people there are the worst of the worst,” he said. “They should not be released.”
Obama, in an effort to close the facility, opened after the 9/11 terror attacks, has recently release dozens of the remaining detainees.
Cardin argued the U.S. is capable to keeping the remaining detainees on American soil, which Republicans and others largely oppose.
“We know how to keep them safe,” he said, calling the facility “an iconic symbol of the past.”