WASHINGTON – In his first Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing as chairman, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) objected to the Obama administration’s apparent opposition to Congress having an up-or-down vote on a final agreement with Iran.
“I want these negotiations to be successful…but just stiff-arming [Congress]…and saying, ‘No, we really don’t want you to play a role, we want you to just trust us,’ is totally unacceptable from my standpoint,” said Corker during the hearing on Iran nuclear negotiations.
Corker further argued that requiring a vote in Congress would strengthen the U.S. negotiating position, increasing the likelihood of an acceptable final deal that would outlast the Obama administration.
“I would just argue that having Congress as a backstop as you enter these final steps…would be somewhat of an anchor to keep us from continuing to move toward Iran’s position,” added Corker.
He also rejected any notion that U.S. partners in the talks with Iran fear congressional review would disrupt the negotiations.
“I’ve talked with our international partners. Not a single one of them has any concerns whatsoever with Congress having the ability to vote up or down on a final deal. Many of them believe it strengthens our hands,” said Corker in response to Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who admitted during today’s hearing that the Iranian parliament might have to approve a deal if one is reached.
Senator Corker’s proposal would require the Obama administration to submit any final nuclear deal with Iran to Congress for review and an up-or-down vote. The purpose of the proposal would be to give relevant congressional committees the opportunity to hold hearings and for both the Senate and the House of Representatives to vote on the agreement. Under existing U.S. law, a similar role for Congress is required when the U.S. shares civilian nuclear technology with a foreign country (known as a “123 agreement”).