APN to Congress: You’ve Legislated Oversight of a Deal – Now Give Iran Diplomacy a Chance to Work

APN today issued the following statement regarding the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s passage of S. 615, amended:

APN has long opposed and continues to oppose any initiative in Congress that could undermine ongoing Iran negotiations or threaten the achievement and implementation of an agreement that could prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. We have also long pointed out that even without a single new piece of legislation, the kind of substantial, long-term sanctions relief that will be central to the success of any Iran nuclear deal cannot be achieved without the active support and cooperation of Congress – giving Congress an automatic and critical role in overseeing and implementing any Iran deal.

With respect to the action taken yesterday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) to pass an amended form of S. 615 – a bill legislating a significantly enhanced congressional role in overseeing and potentially obstructing implementation of an Iran deal – we continue to have grave reservations about the bill, even in somewhat improved form. However, we defer to the judgment of the White House in its assessment that the legislation, as amended, does not pose an insurmountable obstacle to continued negotiations and the achievement of a deal. For this reason, APN will not be actively opposing further action to pass S. 615, in this amended form, into law.

On the positive side, the bipartisan accord on S. 615 – and expected speedy passage of the bill in both the House and Senate, with the approval of the White House – means that no one can again seriously suggest that Congress will not have sufficient say about an Iran deal. In this context, APN urges Congress to now cease and desist from any further initiatives that could hinder talks or prevent the achievement or implementation of an agreement. In the weeks and months ahead, U.S. negotiators and their P5+1 partners will be working to hammer out the most difficult details of a deal. During this period, Congress should take a step back, stand up to outside pressures, and adopt a policy of “do no harm.” The P5+1's diplomacy with Iran has already achieved significant results; Congress has a responsibility to the American people to now give diplomacy a chance to finish the job.  

In addition, members of the SFRC and other senators and representatives who are now supporting the bipartisan compromise on S. 615, based on the argument that in its revised form the bill will not kill negotiations or a deal, must stand firm in opposing the bill if action is taken on the floor of either the House or Senate to re-insert poison pill provisions eliminated in the compromise, or to add new ones. Continued support for S. 615 must be conditioned on preservation of the bipartisan compromises hashed out in and adopted by the SFRC.

Finally, members of both the Senate and the House – those who are not actually seeking to undermine Iran talks and kill a deal – must make clear that their support for S. 615 does not translate to automatic opposition to an Iran nuclear deal, should such a deal be reached. It is incumbent on these elected U.S. officials to signal unambiguously – to their own constituents and to people watching their actions Iran – that while they support enhanced Congressional oversight of a deal, they are also prepared to support a deal that achieves the goal of rolling back Iran’s nuclear program and prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, including with appropriate sanctions relief.