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Senate Passes Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act

Yesterday, the Senate overwhelmingly voted to pass the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, the bipartisan bill authored by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to ensure Congress has a say on any deal the Obama administration makes with Iran.

Speaking on the floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell emphasized that while this bill doesn’t have every provision he and other Republicans would have preferred, it sends a strong message to an administration that was determined to have no input at all from the Senate on its agreement that it must allow Congress and the American people to weigh in.

Leader McConnell said, “The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act offers the best chance for our constituents, through the Congress they elect, to weigh in on the White House’s negotiations with Iran. And make no mistake, they need to have that opportunity.

“The American people were led to believe that these negotiations would be about ending Iran’s nuclear program and its enrichment capability. But the current interim agreement makes one thing clear: these talks have devolved into something else altogether. Instead of ending Iran’s nuclear program, the interim agreement would actually bestow international blessing for Iran to continue it. Rather than meaningfully roll back Tehran’s enrichment capability and dismantle its nuclear infrastructure, the interim agreement would actually permit Iran to become a ‘nuclear threshold’ state poised right at the edge of obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“Iran would love nothing more than for the international community to recognize its threshold program. And the Iranian regime would also love to be rid of the crippling sanctions that forced it to the table in the first place. Iran would of course divert those new funds to support the Assad regime, finance terrorist proxies like Hezbollah, modernize its conventional capabilities and further support the Houthis in Yemen. This would only reaffirm the fears of moderate Sunni allies that America is withdrawing in the face of Iran’s determined effort to expand its sphere of influence.

“And for all this, what would the United States gain from such an agreement from Iran? We would have given up our best leverage over the regime, and for what? That’s a good question. If a final agreement is reached that looks much like the interim agreement we’ve seen, it’s not hard to foresee the possibilities of negative consequences.

“And let me be clear. A bad agreement seems far more likely to eventually lead to the kind of military conflict everyone wants to avoid than no agreement at all.  President Obama would also be leaving the task of dealing with violations of an agreement to his successor.

“I say this all to underline the need for the bipartisan Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act before us today.

“If we didn’t face the threats of filibusters, or the blocking of amendments, or the specter of presidential vetoes, this bill would be a heck of a lot stronger. I assure you. But the truth is, we do. That’s the frustrating reality. The response to this should not be to give the American people no say at all on a deal with Iran. The response should be to overcome those challenges in a way that will give Congress and the American people the best possible chance to review any possible deal and affect its outcome.”

The Wall Street Journal editors made a similar case earlier in the week. They wrote, “In a better world—one in which Mr. Obama were not President—we’d be inclined to agree with the critics. A nuclear deal with Tehran is the most significant international agreement of the past decade and should be handled as a treaty, requiring two-thirds support from the Senate. . . . But then we step back to reality. Critics of Corker-Cardin insist the bill is a gift to the Administration, but you wouldn’t know it given how hard the President and Secretary of State John Kerry lobbied against the bill before it was voted out of committee on a 19-0 bipartisan vote.

“What the Administration most fears is that the bill will require Mr. Obama to submit a nuclear deal, in all of its detail, to a public debate, in which supporters may have to explain its various giveaways. Why, for instance, should Iran get tens of billions of dollars in immediate sanctions relief, which (money being fungible) will immediately be put to use funding missiles for Hezbollah, rockets for Hamas, and barrel bombs for Bashar Assad?

“Similar questions will be raised about ‘snap-back’ sanctions that probably won’t snap back without permission from Moscow and Beijing, or an inspections process that allows the Iranians to play the cat-and-mouse games they’ve used for years to deceive U.N. nuclear inspectors. Democrats will also have to reckon with Mr. Obama’s admission that, when the deal expires in 10 or 15 years, Iran’s ‘nuclear breakout’ will be shortened to weeks—far too short to detect, much less prevent by sanctions or military means.

“That debate will be an education that will inform voters going into the next election. It will also make a filibuster uncomfortable for Senate Democrats, most of whom have political careers to think about after Mr. Obama leaves office. This may not defeat an Iran deal, but that was always unlikely once Mr. Obama chose to submit it as an executive agreement and go to the United Nations first.

“The Corker bill nonetheless does offer the potential of putting a bipartisan majority’s stamp of disapproval on Mr. Obama’s dangerous diplomacy. That’s more than Republicans could hope for if they give Democrats the easy political out of stuffing the bill with amendments that can be dismissed as diplomatic nonstarters, unjustified interventions in presidential power, or any other excuse to support a filibuster.

“Corker-Cardin also contains a proviso requiring the President to certify every 90 days that Iran is in compliance with a deal. The Administration has already shown itself willing to overlook Tehran’s violations of its nuclear commitments, and it would probably take a nuclear test in the Iranian desert for Mr. Obama or Mr. Kerry to acknowledge diplomatic failure.

“But the certification requirement does give Mr. Obama’s successor an opportunity to walk away from the deal should Iran cheat, much as George W. Bush did in 2002 after North Korea admitted to violating Bill Clinton’s Agreed Framework on its nuclear programs.”

The WSJ editors conclude, “Until the U.S. elects a President who is serious about stopping Iran’s nuclear bid, Corker-Cardin is the best bet for censuring Mr. Obama’s misbegotten diplomacy, and giving his successor a fighting chance to reverse it.”

Leader McConnell further pointed out, “Make no mistake: That will not be the end of the story either. This Congress is determined to pursue other avenues to address Iran’s aggressive campaign of expansion and intimidation in the months to come.”

About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog. Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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