Senate Begins Crucial Debate on Administration's Interim Iran Nuke Agreement
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act:
“Two weeks ago, every Republican and every Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee voted to approve the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.
“That 19 to 0 vote cleared the way for its consideration on the floor today.
“This is an important debate for our country. At its heart, it turns on a central proposition: do the American people, through the Members of Congress they elect, deserve a say in one of the most important issues of our time?
“For a long time, the answer from the White House seemed to be ‘no.’
“We’ve since seen a softening of that hard line.
“But it doesn’t mean the fight for this bipartisan legislation has been won.
“I still expect to see vigorous debate this week.
“I still expect to see a robust amendment process.
“And then, at the end of the day, the American people are right to expect their Senators — regardless of party — to stand up for them by supporting a bill that’s as sensible as it is bipartisan.
“Preventing the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism from gaining access to nuclear weapons should be the goal of all Senators, no matter what party they belong to. The price of a bad agreement with Iran could be catastrophic.
“Iran’s nuclear program is only one aspect of its efforts to confront the West across the full spectrum of warfare: through public diplomacy, through its support for terrorism and proxies, through its missile capabilities, and through a modernization of its conventional forces.
“Any sanctions relief from a nuclear agreement would give Iran more funds to conduct these and other activities; so Congress must have a say.
“Let’s not forget: the American people were led to believe that the point of the White House’s negotiations with Iran were to end Iran’s nuclear program, and to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons. Congress and the American people were not told that this would be an exercise in granting Iran international permission to become a ‘nuclear threshold’ state, just steps away from a nuclear weapon.
“If that truly is how things have developed since, then the members of this body and the people we represent need to be heard.
“The American people, through the representatives they elect, have a right to review, analyze, and pass their judgement on any agreement reached — to ensure Americans are getting the kind of agreement they actually deserve.
“Giving the American people a real voice on a topic of such vital importance should not be a partisan issue. And by passing the bipartisan Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, we can help ensure it isn’t.
“Among other things, this bipartisan bill would require that any agreement reached with Iran be submitted for congressional review and public examination. It would also provide the Congress elected by the people with the ability to approve or disapprove of any Iran deal before congressional sanctions are removed.
“In short, the point of this bill is to give the elected representatives of the American people the tools to assess any agreement reached by the administration before congressional sanctions are lifted.
“Those crippling sanctions — which include bipartisan sanctions authored by Senator Kirk that passed 100 to 0, over White House objections — are one of the most important reasons we even got Iran to the table in the first place. So the United States should not give up that leverage now if it means bringing home an agreement that does not meet American national security interests, or one that simply passes on dealing with the Iranian nuclear program to a subsequent administration.
“The point of these negotiations should be to secure an agreement strong enough on its own merits to pass muster with Congress and the American people.
“Congress had the correct judgement to impose bipartisan sanctions over White House objections a few years back.
“Congress would now have the correct judgement to insist that its members, and the Americans each of us represent, are considered in this critically important conversation.
“Passing the bipartisan Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act is key to ensuring that happens.
“And in the process of doing so, we’ll ensure the voices of all Americans are heard with the kind of robust amendment process I mentioned on the floor last week.
“In that vein, we appreciate the Democratic Leader’s comments about ‘an open amendment process,’ where ‘no matter how a person feels about this bill, they will have an opportunity to offer amendments.’
“I appreciate his supportive comments. And I encourage Senators to come to the floor today and offer their amendments.”
Related Issues: Iran, Restoring the Senate, Iran Nuclear Deal