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Corker Seeking Veto-proof Majority as Bipartisan Iran Nuclear Agreement Bill Comes Up For Senate Consideration

Statement on upcoming Senate consideration of the legislation also released

Press release from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; March 5, 2015:

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – With bipartisan momentum building in the Senate behind legislation to require congressional review of a nuclear deal with Iran, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement today regarding the effort to seek support from a supermajority of 67 senators to override a presidential veto of the bill, which the White House threatened last week.

“The strongest signal we can send to the U.S. negotiators is having a veto-proof majority in support of Congress weighing in on any final nuclear deal with Iran,” said Sen. Corker. “This week, our bipartisan legislation gained momentum with four additional Democrats offering their support for the bill. I greatly appreciate the Majority Leader’s commitment to getting the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act across the finish line by allowing the vote to occur at a time when we will more likely generate a veto-proof majority.”

In a letter yesterday, nine Democrats and one Independent pledged to support the Corker-Menendez bill after March 24. The legislation would then need only three additional Democratic votes for a veto-proof majority, assuming the backing of all 54 Republicans.

Last Friday, Senator Corker and Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. The legislation mandates the president submit the text of any agreement to Congress and prohibits the administration from suspending congressional sanctions for 60 days. During that period, Congress would have the opportunity to hold hearings and approve, disapprove or take no action on the agreement. The bill is also cosponsored by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Angus King (I-Maine), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 contains the following key provisions:

  • Congressional Review: Within five days of concluding a comprehensive agreement with Iran, the president must submit to Congress (1) the text of the agreement, (2) a verification assessment on Iranian compliance, and (3) a certification that the agreement meets U.S. non-proliferation objectives and does not jeopardize U.S. national security, including not allowing Iran to pursue nuclear-related military activities.
  • No Suspension of Congressional Sanctions for 60 Days: The president is prohibited from suspending, waiving or otherwise reducing congressional sanctions for 60 days. During this period, Congress may hold hearings and approve, disapprove or take no action on the agreement. Passage of a joint resolution of approval, or no action, within the 60-day period would allow the President to move forward with congressional sanctions relief. Passage of a joint resolution of disapproval (overriding a presidential veto) within the 60-day period would block the president from implementing congressional sanctions relief under the agreement.
  • Congressional Oversight and Iranian Compliance: After the congressional review period, the president would be required to assess Iran’s compliance with the agreement every 90 days. In the event the president cannot certify compliance, or if the president determines there has been a material breach of the agreement, Congress could vote, on an expedited basis, to restore sanctions that had been waived or suspended under the agreement.

Full text of the bill is available here.

Press release from U.S. Sen. bob Corker, R-Tenn.; March 3, 2015:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he welcomed upcoming Senate consideration of his bipartisan bill requiring congressional review of any comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced the legislation will be taken up on the Senate floor next week. Senator Corker indicated the Foreign Relations Committee could vote on the bill next Tuesday and the resulting legislation would be the version to be debated in the full Senate.

“I would think anybody who ran for the United States Senate and cares about the big issues facing our nation would want to support this piece of legislation,” said Corker. “I think everyone in America should want the House and the Senate to weigh in on this most important agreement that may be reached, and I’m glad we’re going to have the opportunity to do so.”

Last Friday, Senator Corker and Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. The legislation mandates the president submit the text of any agreement to Congress and prohibits the administration from suspending congressional sanctions for 60 days. During that period, Congress would have the opportunity to hold hearings and approve, disapprove or take no action on the agreement. The bill is also cosponsored by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and Angus King (I-Maine).

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Corker Introduces Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015

Also releases statement on Obama’s veto threat against bipartisan agreement

Press release from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; February 27, 2015:

Legislation Prohibits Suspension of Congressional Sanctions for 60 Days after President Submits Any Comprehensive Iran Nuclear Agreement to Congress

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced bipartisan legislation (S.615) requiring congressional review of any comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran. The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 would mandate the president submit the text of any agreement to Congress and prohibit the administration from suspending congressional sanctions for 60 days. During that period, Congress would have the opportunity to hold hearings and approve, disapprove or take no action on the agreement.

“There are few national security priorities for our country more important than preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and any agreement that seeks to do this must include Congress having a say on the front end. Allowing Congress to play its critical and historic role of reviewing international agreements will help, not hinder, these negotiations by ensuring any comprehensive agreement is verifiable and will stand the test of time,” said Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It is important that we preserve the integrity of the congressional sanctions, so this bipartisan legislation creates a responsible review process that will allow Congress the opportunity to approve or disapprove the agreement before the administration could attempt to remove these sanctions.”

“As we enter the final weeks of negotiations, Congress is rightly pursuing a duel track approach to the Iran nuclear issue and applying responsible pressure on Iran to ensure the right outcome is reached at these talks. The Kirk-Menendez sanctions legislation passed earlier this month is poised to move forward if a political framework agreement is not reached by the March 24 deadline,” Menendez said. “At the same time, if a nuclear deal is reached, Congress will have an opportunity to review the agreement and more importantly, ensure its compliance after it goes into effect.  This legislation establishes that vital review and oversight process.”

“The stakes of these negotiations with Iran are so important to our own national security that Congress should review and vote on any agreement before it becomes binding,” said Graham. “It would be a blessing if the Obama Administration were to strike a good deal which controls the Iranian nuclear ambitions.  A bad deal however, will be a nightmare for the region, Israel, and own our long-term national security interests.”

“I am a strong supporter of President Obama’s effort to find a diplomatic path to guarantee that Iran does not have the capacity to develop a nuclear weapon,” said Kaine, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. “The interim deal reached by the P5+1 has been good for the United States – and the world – because it has rolled back the Iranian program and given us unprecedented inspection rights to make sure Iran is meeting its obligations. The content of any final deal is of great significance to the national security of the United States, our allies, and to international peace and stability. Iran is fully aware that its ultimate goal – elimination of statutory sanctions created by Congress – will require Congressional approval.  But long before Congress considers that repeal, a deal with Iran will involve up-front relief from a sanctions regime that was approved by Congress and implemented by the Administration. I believe Congress should weigh in on the content of the deal given the centrality of the congressional sanctions to the entire negotiation and the significant security interests involved.  This legislation sets up a clear and constructive process for Congressional review of statutory sanctions relief under a standard that is appropriately deferential to the executive branch negotiating the deal. I wish the P5+1 negotiators well in this final phase of negotiation and hope to work with my colleagues to provide support for a  diplomatic deal that effectively ends Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

The legislation also is cosponsored by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), andAngus King (I-Maine).

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 contains the following key provisions:

  • Congressional Review: Within five days of concluding a comprehensive agreement with Iran, the president must submit to Congress (1) the text of the agreement, (2) a verification assessment on Iranian compliance, and (3) a certification that the agreement meets U.S. non-proliferation objectives and does not jeopardize U.S. national security, including not allowing Iran to pursue nuclear-related military activities.
  • No Suspension of Congressional Sanctions for 60 Days: The president is prohibited from suspending, waiving or otherwise reducing congressional sanctions for 60 days. During this period, Congress may hold hearings and approve, disapprove or take no action on the agreement. Passage of a joint resolution of approval, or no action, within the 60-day period would allow the President to move forward with congressional sanctions relief. Passage of a joint resolution of disapproval (overriding a presidential veto) within the 60-day period would block the president from implementing congressional sanctions relief under the agreement.
  • Congressional Oversight and Iranian Compliance: After the congressional review period, the president would be required to assess Iran’s compliance with the agreement every 90 days. In the event the president cannot certify compliance, or if the president determines there has been a material breach of the agreement, Congress could vote, on an expedited basis, to restore sanctions that had been waived or suspended under the agreement.

Full text of the bill is available here.

Press release from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; February 28, 2015: 

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made the following statement regarding the White House’s threat of a presidential veto against his bipartisan bill requiring congressional review of any comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.

“It is disappointing that the president feels he is the only one who speaks for the citizens of our country,” said Corker. “Congress put these sanctions in place and helped bring Iran to the table with the administration working against the effort the whole way. As a result, Congress should decide whether a final nuclear deal with Iran is appropriate enough to have the congressionally mandated sanctions removed.”

On Friday, Senator Corker and Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. The legislation mandates the president submit the text of any agreement to Congress and prohibits the administration from suspending congressional sanctions for 60 days. During that period, Congress would have the opportunity to hold hearings and approve, disapprove or take no action on the agreement.

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Corker Objects to Obama Administration Opposition to Congressional Vote on Final Iran Agreement

Press release from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; January 21, 2015:

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-kiu3L78Es[/youtube]

 

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”).