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House lawmakers are readying legislation that would force the Obama administration to report to Congress about the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and whether or not it is complying with the interim nuclear accord, according to a copy of the bill obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
The legislation is being viewed as a bid to legally force the White House into sharing information and provide oversight over the Iran deal, the text of which the Obama administration has kept locked in a secret location.
The new bill, authored by Rep. Jackie Walorski (R., Ind.), would mandate that President Barack Obama immediately report to Congress on the state of the interim nuclear accord and Iran’s nuclear program.
The bill also would require that the White House report to Congress about any final deal it may strike with Tehran.
This White House report to Congress would have to detail Iran’s ongoing nuclear progress and assess whether it is complying with the requirements of the accord. The report also would have to detail “the overall state of the nuclear program of Iran,” according to the bill.
House insiders say the measure—which will be included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)—is a direct response to the White House’s bid to avoid congressional oversight and any public discussion of Iran’s ongoing nuclear progress.
Senior Obama administration officials have long been working behind the scenes to find a legal loophole that would enable the White House to bypass congressional approval of a final Iran deal, the Free Beacon reported earlier this year.
The White House ultimately hopes to unilaterally lift sanctions on Iran and avoid running a final deal through Congress for approval.
It also has been keeping very close tabs on who exactly views the text of the interim accord, which is kept under lock and key in a highly secure compound on Capitol Hill.
"We're kept almost completely in the dark,” said one senior House aide familiar with the new legislation. “Little if any evidence has been provided to members of Congress, let alone the American public, to suggest that Iran is complying with the deal. There is, however, a great deal of proof that sanctions relief has put Iran's economy on an unmistakable road to recovery.”
The new congressional measure seeks to prevent the Obama administration from successfully skirting Congress by legally forcing it to run any new deal through the legislative branch.
If the interim accord “is renewed or if a comprehensive and final agreement is entered into” with Iran, the White House will be forced to report to Congress within 90 days, according to the bill.
House insiders expect the bill to garner widespread support from lawmakers who have publicly and privately expressed frustration with the Obama administration’s attempts to keep them in the dark.
“I have no doubt this amendment will be easily adopted in the House,” said the senior congressional aide. “The real key will be the Senate, where [Majority Leader] Harry Reid has repeatedly stonewalled attempts to pass bipartisan Iran sanctions.”
“As the administration's negotiating circus with Iran nears the six-month deadline, Reid and his allies will have a much more difficult time blocking this reasonable demand for transparency from the White House,” the source said.
The Iran bill is similar to another proposal pushed last month by Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), the House’s chief deputy whip.
Roskam—who is said to have worked with Walorski on the new bill—sought to require the administration to provide monthly reports to Congress on the Iran deal and the regime’s nuclear progress.
Roskam, like other lawmakers, expressed concern about the “lack of transparency from the White House,” according to a letter he sent to House appropriators in April.