While the President of the United States sets the country’s foreign policy and priorities, Congress gets to determine how much money to spend on those policies and priorities.
A key person making those determinations is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Sen. Bob Corker holds that gavel right now. He’s a Republican from Tennessee who criticized President Obama for having “no strategy in Syria from day one.” In an October interview with MSNBC, Corker said “I do not understand this president” regarding his resistance to establish a no-fly zone along the Turkey-Syria border.
Corker opposed the Iran nuclear deal, saying the negotiators were “fleeced” and the agreement “basically codifies the industrialization of (Iran’s) nuclear program.” At a hearing on the deal in July 2015, Corker called the administration’s argument that it’s this deal or war as “hyperbole.”
However, there are some who believe Corker plays too nicely with the Obama White House. The Conservative Review says Corker shows “reluctance to challenge Obama’s foreign policy in any significant way.”
Corker’s predecessor as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, told the Memphis Commercial Appeal that working with Corker “has been an island of bipartisanship.”
Corker has a reputation of being a deal-maker. A recent article in Politico describes Corker’s rhetoric as “a bargaining ploy, a way of shaping the negotiations before the real work begins.”
In a wide-ranging interview Monday with VOA Senate Correspondent Michael Bowman, Sen. Corker questioned rhetoric from Republican presidential candidates who say if they are elected, the Iran nuclear deal will be dead on day one of their presidency.
He also discussed the “abject failure” of three U.S. presidents to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and predicted “additional instability” in Russia because of Vladimir Putin’s “tremendous personal wealth.”
WATCH: VOA’s Michael Bowman interview with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee)
The interview starts on the topic of North Korea and sanctions the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently approved targeting entities that supply and finance Pyongyang’s military complex.
At 3:40, the conversation shifts to the Iran nuclear deal. Despite his opposition to the deal, Corker says he wants it to be successful and will work with members from both political parties in Congress to hold Iran to the terms of the agreement.
At 6:40, Corker questions whether a Republican president could back out of the deal as soon as they take office. At 9:40, Corker discusses his views of the U.S. effort against Islamic State.
At 11:50, Corker responds to the declaration by the U.S. Treasury that Vladimir Putin is corrupt. Corker made a point of saying Putin has “amassed tremendous personal wealth” which Russians are beginning to see, and he thinks it will create additional instability in Russia.