Remarks Following Meeting With Senator Durbin

John Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC
September 9, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me just – first of all I want to thank and congratulate Dick Durbin on his tremendous leadership and his very conscientious effort to make sure that the Democratic caucus did what senators should do, which is really take a hard look at the facts and to learn this agreement. Both Ernie Moniz and I want to say thank you for the extraordinary amount of time that every Democratic senator put into this, including those who may have decided otherwise in supporting it.

We were impressed and we spent many, many hours. They’ve learned nuclear jargon and details about centrifuges and fissionable material that they probably never expected to learn. But we are deeply impressed by the fact that 42 of them have publicly come out and made it clear that they support this agreement. They believe it makes Israel and the region safer; it reduces the threat of a nuclear weapon; it provides extraordinary inspection and withstands scrutiny. And we’re also delighted, obviously, that former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, Senator Lugar, Senator Warner, others who stood up to make it clear there was a bipartisan view about supporting this – and I might add, including former security officials from Israel also.

So we have high hopes that because 42 senators made it clear that they support the agreement, we hope that the Senate will move rapidly to do the business of our country – not of a party, but the business of our nation. And we hope that will happen very (inaudible).

SENATOR DURBIN: Secretary Kerry has to go to a meeting. Let’s have one or two brief questions.

QUESTION: Senator Durbin, can I ask you about a filibuster?

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, do you think – Secretary, do you think the United States has a responsibility to take in more refugees from Syria?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I believe the President has made it clear that he wants the United States, which has always taken a leadership role with respect to humanitarian issues, and particularly refugees, to be able to do what we can. I just met with members this morning. We are committed to increasing the number of refugees that we take, and we are looking hard at the number that we can specifically manage with respect to the crisis in Syria and Europe and (inaudible) migration today. But that’s being vetted fully right now, and I think at the appropriate time (inaudible) exactly what that number (inaudible).

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, as you are in here negotiating this and pushing it through the Senate, outside today we’re going to have Donald Trump and Ted Cruz speaking out against this deal. I’m wondering, do you think Donald Trump is qualified to negotiate with other heads of state on major deals like this one?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I’m not going to (inaudible). That’s really the presidential election, and I’m not going to get into that election.

QUESTION: But you’re not willing to say he’s not qualified to do that?

SECRETARY KERRY: It’s not my judgment to make right now. I believe that the people who count are 42 senators who’ve made up their minds. That’s the count that matters right now. If Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and Dick Cheney want to be the face of the opposition, that’s their choice.