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April 9, 2015

Memo – Don’t Let Congress Kill a Deal: Oppose the Corker-Menendez Bill

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Senators Bob Corker (R-TN), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) have introduced S.615 – the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which claims to provide Congressional oversight of an Iran nuclear agreement but in reality threatens to kill any deal.

  • Congressional Veto: The bill enables Congress to veto any final deal.
  • Delay: The bill would directly interfere with the implementation of a final deal by delaying it for 60 days while Congress decides whether to veto it.
  • Non-nuclear Demands: This bill would require terrorism issues be resolved in a nuclear deal, inserting non-nuclear demands that could kill the talks.

S.615 Undermines U.S. Negotiating Leverage: The U.S. and its partners secured a strong framework agreement and are working to finalize the deal, but Corker-Menendez undermines our negotiators at the worst possible moment.

  • By delaying and revoking the President’s waiver authorities, this bill creates uncertainty that the U.S. can suspend sanctions, let alone ever lift them.
  • The U.S. is working to keep Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany and Iran on board to finalize the nuclear deal – adding 535 new negotiators to the talks is a mistake that risks isolating the U.S. instead of Iran.

S.615 Moves the Goalposts on Our Diplomats: This bill plays into the claims of Iranian hardliners who say the U.S. cannot be trusted to lift sanctions under a deal but will instead shift pressure to other issues.

  • The bill requires the President to certify that Iran has not supported terrorism against the U.S., which is beyond the scope of the already complex nuclear deal.
  • By adding new terrorism demands, Congress is shifting the terms of a deal and risks re-imposing nuclear sanctions even if Iran upholds the deal. 

S.615 Empowers Hardliners: This bill provides ammunition for Iranian hardliners and new tools to those in Congress who are committed to killing any agreement.

  • Adding terrorism demands and threatening to not uphold sanctions relief commitments empowers Iranian hardliners to argue against a deal.
  • Those in Congress behind outrageous stunts like the Netanyahu speech and Tom Cotton letter should not be given new powers to kill a deal.
  • Congress can have an oversight role and will ultimately decide whether or not to finalize the deal by lifting sanctions. But this legislation goes far beyond appropriate oversight.
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