New Senate Bill Mandates Congress Have Oversight on Iran Deal

Bill comes as lawmakers express frustration of extension in talks

Hassan Rouhani
July 23, 2014

A group of senators unveiled new legislation late Wednesday that would force President Barack Obama to go to Congress for approval on any potential nuclear deal with Iran and that would bar the White House from granting any further extension in the talks, according to Senate sources familiar with the bill.

The Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act of 2014—jointly sponsored by Republican Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John McCain (Ariz.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), and James Risch (Idaho)—would require the president to submit any nuclear agreement with Iran to Congress within three days of the deal being struck, according to sources briefed on the bill.

Congress would then have 15 days to review the deal and another 15 to either approve or reject it.

"I strongly support vigorous diplomatic efforts to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, but it must be clear that there will be no more extensions," Corker, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement provided to the Washington Free Beacon. "Congress must weigh in on any final deal, ensure Iranian compliance is strictly enforced and provide a backstop to prevent a bad deal from occurring."

"While this bill does not include new sanctions on Iran, it allows Congress to seek further sanctions if an acceptable final deal can’t be reached," Corker said.

Should the White House refuse to grant Congress review over the deal—as it has indicated it may do—all sanctions that have been lifted on Iran will immediately go back into effect. Sanctions would also immediately kick in again if Congress decides to reject the deal.

The bill comes just days after Obama decided to extend the nuclear negotiations with Iran past their July 20 deadline. Talks will now continue until November and Iran will continue to receive sanctions relief, as well as another $2.8 billion in cash assets.

Lawmakers have become increasingly frustrated with the White House’s efforts to unilaterally roll back sanctions and block Congress from having a say in the negotiations.

The new bill also would include provisions aimed at stopping Iran from cheating on any future agreement.

If the U.S. intelligence community finds evidence that Iran has failed to comply with the terms of any agreement, economic sanctions would immediately go back into effect, according to those briefed on the bill.

The legislation also would prevent the White House from extending the talks past the new November deadline.

The bill effectively prevents the White House from allowing the interim agreement to become a final deal by mandating that sanctions go back into effect on the day the extension of talks end, Nov. 28, 2014.