McConnell Promises ‘Vigorous Debate’ on Interim Iran Nuke Agreement
‘In short, passing this bipartisan bill would give Congress and the American people important tools to assess any agreement reached by the administration before congressional sanctions can be lifted.’
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:
“Now, on the subject of committees getting back to work in the new Congress, we witnessed more evidence of that last week when the Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved the bipartisan Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. It’s a bipartisan bill with many Republican and Democrat cosponsors, and it will ensure the American people are given a voice on one of the most important issues of our time.
“Chairman Corker worked closely with members of both parties to both craft this bipartisan bill and to advance it. Many have admired not just his hard work on this issue, but his determination as well. After all, who would have imagined that the White House, after trying to kill this bipartisan bill for months, would find itself forced to pull a near-total about-face?
“It’s no wonder though, because the core principle that has always underlined the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act — that Congress and the American people deserve a say in any nuclear deal the President tries to cut with Iran — is more than just common sense.
“It’s a no-brainer.
“After all, preventing the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism from gaining access to nuclear weapons should be the goal of every Senator and every American, regardless of party.
“It’s not a partisan issue. It’s one of the greatest challenges to regional stability, and the stakes are high.
“Iran’s support of Hezbollah, the Assad regime, Shia militias in Iraq, and Houthi insurgents in Yemen – coupled with its determination to expand not just its nuclear capabilities, but also its ballistic missile and conventional military capabilities – represents an aggressive effort to expand the Iranian sphere of influence throughout the greater Middle East.
“Iran’s belligerent quest for nuclear weapons capabilities, its fierce determination to undermine America’s standing in the region, and its violent pursuit of regional hegemony represent a grave threat.
“Not just to nearby nations in the Middle East. Not just to our own country. But to the entire world.
“So the stakes are high. And as we know, President Obama has been engaged in negotiations with the Iranians for some time now.
“Initially, we were led to believe that the point of these negotiations was to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. But the Administration’s focus appears to have shifted: from reaching an agreement that would end Iran’s nuclear program, to reaching an agreement for agreement’s sake.
“That’s the only way to interpret the interim agreement we saw recently. It would effectively bestow an international blessing for Iran to become a ‘nuclear threshold’ state, forever on the edge of obtaining a nuclear weapon.
“The direction these negotiations have taken should be very worrying for Americans of every political stripe. And what this simply underlines is the need for a measure like the bipartisan Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. Here’s what it would do:
• First, it would require that any final agreement reached with Iran be submitted to Congress for review.
• Second, it would require that Congress be given time to hold hearings, and ultimately take a vote to approve or disprove any Iran agreement, before congressional sanctions are lifted.
• Third, if a final deal ultimately does go forward after that, it would require the President to certify back to Congress every 90 days that Iran remains in compliance with the agreement — and if the President is unable to do so, it would empower Congress to rapidly re-impose sanctions.
“In short, passing this bipartisan bill would give Congress and the American people important tools to assess any agreement reached by the administration before congressional sanctions can be lifted.
“Remember: It was due in no small measure to the congressional sanctions authored by Sen. Kirk, which passed this chamber 100-0 four years ago, that Iran was forced to the negotiating table in the first place.
“The Obama Administration fiercely opposed those bipartisan sanctions then, just as it opposed the bipartisan bill before us until very recently. But those sanctions have been so effective that even the Administration has had to embrace them.
“Congress was right then. Congress is right now.
“We should not be negotiating away the leverage previous sanctions have given our country for a bad deal, essentially agreed to for agreement’s sake.
“Look: No piece of legislation is perfect.
“Senators who would like to see this bill strengthened — as I would — will have that chance during the robust amendment process we’ll soon see here on the floor.
“But what we do know is that this bipartisan bill is underlined by a solid principle and a lot of hard work. It represents a real opportunity to give the American people more of a say on this important issue.
“And we look forward to a vigorous debate on it next week.”
Related Issues: Restoring the Senate, Iran, Iran Nuclear Deal