ICYMI: Sen. Cruz: Congress Must Stop Obama's Bad Iran Deal
Iran Nuclear Review Act should be strengthened with amendments
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, today asked for unanimous consent on his amendment, cosponsored with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn., to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act that would require affirmative Congressional approval of any Iranian nuclear deal before sanctions relief can occur. Sen. Cardin, D-Md., objected to his request.
"Our first priority should be stopping a bad Iran deal that jeopardizes the lives of millions of Americans and millions of our allies," Sen. Cruz said. "There is nothing more important this body can consider, not trade, not the budget. There is nothing more important. The first responsibility of this body is to protect the national security of this country - to protect the lives and safety of men, women, and children across this country - and the President's Iran deal deeply jeopardizes the safety of Americans."
Sens. Cruz and Toomey filed amendment #1152 in April. See the original release here.
View Sen. Cruz's full remarks here. See excerpts below.
"I rise today to sound a note of warning about the nation of Iran. Consider the following facts:
"The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has accused America of lying. We learned the Iranian regime has been actively arming and supporting the anti-American Houthi rebels in Yemen since 2009. The Iranian regime held a parade of military equipment that featured chants of ‘Death to America' and ‘Death to Israel.' The Iranian regime charged an unjustly detained American citizen, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, with espionage and other crimes including ‘propaganda against the establishment.' The Defense Minister of Iran declared that IAEA inspectors would be barred from all military sites, even those known to have nuclear facilities.
"The Iranian Navy threatened a cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz sailing under the flag of the United States. The Iranian Navy seized another cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz sailing under the flag of our ally, the Marshall Islands. The Foreign Minister of Iran accused the United States and our allies of being the biggest danger to the international community. Great Britain informed a U.N. Sanctions panel that Iran has an active nuclear procurement network linked to two blacklisted firms. And the Iranian Navy harassed a U.S. warship and military planes off the coast of Yemen.
"Mr. President, these are not events from 1979, or 1983, or 1996. These are, in chronological order, the aggressive anti-American actions of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the last month. Every one of those occurred in the last month. And at least these are the ones we know of that have been covered in the media. This relentless drumbeat of hostility has gone on unabated for 36 years and it makes the legislation before this body, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, all the more critical.
"The bill's supporters insist it is the only way to ensure that Congress has its due say over President Obama's proposed Iran deal. I agree that it is of paramount importance to give Congress its proper role in an international agreement of this magnitude, and to make clear that President Obama must persuade Congress and the American people to support his deal if he wants it to be binding. Which is why I had been supportive of this process so far. But I'm here to tell you that as the legislation stands, this legislation is unlikely to stop a bad Iran deal.
"The problem is an all too familiar one here in Washington, D.C., which is that the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act contains a provision, inserted at the insistence of Senate Democrats, which will allow Congress to appear to vote against the deal while tacitly allowing it to go into effect. The bill allows Congress to adopt a ‘Resolution of Disapproval' of President Obama's Iran deal. On the surface, that sounds reasonable. From what we know publicly of the deal, I certainly disapprove of it strongly. But a Resolution of Disapproval under this legislation, even if it passed a 60-vote threshold with grand claims of bipartisanship, would not be the end of the matter. The President would certainly veto it, and once he did, it would require 67 votes in the Senate and 290 votes in the House to override that veto. No wonder the White House has lifted its objection to this legislation. All the President would have to do to force a bad Iran deal on America is hold 34 Senators of the Democratic party or 145 members of Congress.
"If he could do that, a bad deal that undermines the national security of this country, that endangers our friend and ally, the nation of Israel, would go into effect, and he could claim he was simply following the process that Congress required. That's not an oversight. That's not an accident. This bill as drafted will provide some political cover to Senate Democrats to say they have voted to provide strict scrutiny and congressional approval of an Iran deal. And yet as currently drafted, it is a virtual certainty that no matter how terrible this deal is, it will go into effect and this legislation is unlikely to stop it.
"Our first priority should be stopping a bad Iran deal that jeopardizes the lives of millions of Americans and millions of our allies. There is nothing more important this body can consider, not trade, not the budget. There is nothing more important. The first responsibility of this body is to protect the national security of this country - to protect the lives and safety of men, women, and children across this country - and the President's Iran deal deeply jeopardizes the safety of Americans.
"From what we know publicly, and the details are still shrouded in considerable secrecy, but from what we know publicly, under this deal, Iran will be allowed to keep its enriched uranium. It will be allowed to keep its centrifuges and reactors. It will continue its ICBM program, the only purpose of which is to deliver a nuclear weapon to the United States of America.
"Tehran will receive even more economic relief, reportedly including a $50 billion signing bonus. Mr. President, who in their right mind would give a $50 billion signing bonus to Iran? It's worth noting that even under one of the strictest regimes of international sanctions, Iran was still able to marshal the resources to become one of the world's leading state sponsors of terrorism. We can only imagine what Iran will do with this new source of funding, which will certainly flow to Hamas, to Hezbollah, and to the Houthis, as well as their proxies in Latin America.
"Mr. President, I would note if this deal goes into effect and tens of hundreds of billions of dollars flow into Iran including a $50 billion signing bonus and that money is given directly to radical Islamic terrorists, the blood of the men and women and children who will be murdered by those terrorists will be directly on the hands of this Administration.
"If we allow tens and hundreds of billions of dollars to flow into the hands of terrorists, it places complicity for that terrorism on this Administration. There is no topic more serious this body could consider than preventing the murder of Americans. The Iranians' behavior speaks for itself. They are right now today unlawfully imprisoning multiple American citizens: Pastor Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati as well as Jason Rezaian under brutal conditions and they are withholding information on the whereabouts of Robert Levinson.
"They have killed Americans across the globe and they have plotted to kill us here at home. And they are explicitly threatening to wipe our ally, the nation of Israel, off the map. Indeed, in the midst of this negotiation, the senior Iranian general said the annihilation of Israel is ‘nonnegotiable.' Given that, there is no way on earth we should be allowing billions of dollars to flow into a radical terrorist organization that has declared its object, destroying Israel, which they call the ‘little Satan,' and ultimately destroying America, which they call us the ‘great Satan.'
"They are telling us they want to kill us, not ten years ago or twenty years ago. They're telling us this right now.
"If history teaches any principle with abundant clarity it is that if somebody tells you they want to kill you, believe them, and they're not being subtle. These are the people the Obama Administration are putting on a path to having nuclear weaponry, the most fearsome weaponry known to man. Make no mistake, that's what this deal would do unless Congress steps in to stop it. Not to have a show vote, not to pretend to disapprove, but to actually stop a bad deal that jeopardizes our safety....
"One simple change would turn this legislation into something meaningful. One simple change that would say the President's free to negotiate any deal he likes, but before it goes into effect, bring it to Congress and get the affirmative agreement of Congress. Don't have a fig leaf vote and let the President's bad deal go into effect that undermines our national security. Have a meaningful vote that requires the affirmative approval of Congress. I urge my colleagues to adopt the Cruz-Toomey amendment which is a commonsense fix that will give this bill real teeth by removing the resolution of disapproval and instead would allow an Iran deal to go into effect only if Congress approves it."