APN Legislative Round-Up: July 24, 2015

1. Bills & Resolutions
2. Hearings
3. Members on the Record

NOTE: APN has extensive resources on the Iran deal here, including a regularly updated compendium of comments from Israeli security and nuclear experts and the best analysis and commentary on the deal.

1. Bills & Resolutions

(NO $$ FOR UN IF IT LIFTS IRAN SANCTIONS) S. 1853: Introduced 7/23 by Cruz (R-TX) and no cosponsors, “to limit the availability of funding for contributions to the United Nations if the arms embargo on Iran pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1747 and 1929 is lifted.”  Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

(TREAT JCPOA AS TREATY THAT CONGRESS MUST RATIFY) HR 3199: Introduced 7/23 by Brat (R-VA) and 3 cosponsors, “To prohibit statutory sanctions relief by the United States with respect to Iran unless the Senate provides its advice and consent to ratification of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(BAD OBAMA – UN SHOULD HAVE WAITED FOR CONGRESS ON IRAN DEAL!)  H. Res. 379:  Introduced 7/23 by Lance (R-NJ) and 9 cosponsors, “Reaffirming the role of the House of Representatives in the review and approval or disapproval of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action relating to the nuclear program of Iran.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.


(DEMAND RELEASE OF INFO ON “SIDE DEALS” WITH IRAN) McConnell- Boehner-Cotton-Pompeo letter: On 7/22, House and Senate GOP leaders came together to send a letter to President Obama demanding that President send to Congress text of two “side agreements” with Iran regarding resolution of concerns about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s past nuclear program – agreements that are not with the U.S./P5+1 and Iran, but rather are between Iran and the IAEA, and are not formally part of the JCPOA).  The letter contends that, “The purpose of the Iran Nuclear Agreement review Act is to ensure Congress has a fully informed understanding of the JCPOA.  Failure to produce these two side agreements leaves Congress blind on critical information regarding Iran’s potential path to being a nuclear power and will have detrimental consequences for the ability of members to assess the JCPOA.  We request you transmit these two side agreements to Congress immediately so we may perform our duty to assess the many important questions related to the JCPOA.”  Press release is here.

(NO IRAN DEAL UNLESS AMCITS RELEASED) Rubio letter to Kerry: On 7/17, Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to Secretary of State Kerry arguing that “It is unacceptable that the United States has reached a final agreement with Iran while innocent Americans languish in the most brutal conditions of Iranian jail cells.” The letter condemns the Obama Administration for coming to an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program that did not also secure the unconditional freedom of these Americans, and closes: “I am disturbed by how the administration has missed an opportunity to make the freedom of these Americans a priority in your negotiations with Iran. Despite your claims that these negotiations were only about Iran's nuclear program, Iran successfully obtained non-nuclear concessions from these negotiations that will aid its efforts to sow terror and instability throughout the Middle East. These American citizens deserve to be released unconditionally, and I urge you to use every tool at your disposal to secure their freedom.” [The letter rings somewhat hollow given that Rubio is an outspoken critic of the deal, period – regardless of the issue of Americans held in Iran].


2. Hearings

7/29: The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Potential Implications in the Region of the Iran Deal.” Scheduled witnesses (as of this writing) are an all-WINEP line-up of Michael Eisenstadt and Michael Singh.

7/28: The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will hold a CLOSED hearing on Iran. No information on witnesses is available at this time.

7/28: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs will hold a hearing entitled, “Iran Nuclear Agreement: The Administration’s Case.”  Scheduled witnesses are Secretary of State Kerry, Secretary of the Treasury Lew, and Secretary of Energy Moniz.

7/28: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on National Security will hold a hearing entitled, “Impact of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement.”  Witnesses have not been publicly announcing as of this writing.

7/28: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade will hold a hearing entitled, “The Iran-North Korea Strategic Alliance.” Scheduled witnesses are:  Ilan Berman, American Foreign Policy Council; Claudia Rosett, Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Larry Niksch, Center for Strategic and International Studies; and Jim Walsh, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

7/23:  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing entitled, “Iran Nuclear Agreement Review.”  Witnesses were Secretary of State Kerry (written testimony), Secretary of Energy Moniz (written testimony), and Secretary of Treasure Lew (written testimony). Video of the hearing is here (CSPAN video, including transcript of Q&A, here).  This hearing is very much worth watching, both to hear the Administration’s explanation/defense of the Iran deal and to witness the remarkable contempt shown by some GOP members of the SFRC to these three members of the President’s cabinet, in particular Secretary Kerry, former Chairman of this very committee (for example, by Sen. Risch, R-ID).

7/22: The House Financial Services Task Force on Terrorism Financing held a hearing entitled, “The Iran Nuclear Deal and its Impact on Terrorism Financing.” Witnesses were: Ilan Berman, American Foreign Policy Council (statement); Mark Dubowitz, Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Director (statement); Steven Perles, Perles Law Firm (statement);  Olli Heinonen, Harvard University (statement); and Richard Nephew, Columbia University (statement). Video is available here. Chairman Hensarling’s (R-TX) press release on the hearing is here.

7/22: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa held a hearing entitled, “Promoting U.S. Commerce in the Middle East and North Africa.”  Witnesses were Elizabeth Richard, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Department of State (statement); and Scott Nathan, Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, Department of State (statement). Video of the hearing is here.


3. Members on the Record

Virtually every member of Congress has made (and continues to make) statements – in the Congressional Record, in press release, in media appearances, on Twitter – about the 7/14 Iran nuclear deal. There is simply no way to cover them all here.  What can be said, briefly, is that statements from GOP members of Congress remain, for the most part, negative; statements from Democrats in Congress are for the most part positive (some very positive, some more cautiously so), with many Democrats in essence saying they are hopeful but are (reasonably) withholding final judgment until they have had time to review the deal.

A simple Google search of a specific Member of Congress’ name + “Iran Deal” will clarify where most members stand at this time.