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OPINION

Cruz Says “No” to Biden’s Iran-First Policies

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/John Raoux, File

Iran’s foreign minister has declared that the State Department’s designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” – imposed by the Trump Administration in 2019 – must be lifted before Tehran agrees to come back into compliance with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, and the Biden Administration is contemplating agreeing to those terms. Not so fast, says Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, speaking for those who oppose the deal.

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As the world’s attention is focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a different but no less critical foreign policy showdown is taking place in our nation’s capital. Its stakes are just as high as those of the conflict in Ukraine, for its outcome may determine whether or not Iran gets nuclear weapons. On one side is President Biden; on the other, Sen. Cruz.

The Constitution of the United States vests the power to manage foreign policy firmly in the executive branch, but also gives the Senate significant power over its conduct. Cruz – who famously memorized the Constitution as a high school student – is counting on that Senate authority as he battles the Biden Administration’s determination to sign a revived nuclear deal with Iran.

From the very start of this administration, Team Biden made clear its intent to do whatever it took, no matter what the cost, to get Iran back into compliance with the deal originally negotiated by the Obama Administration. And from the very start of this administration, Cruz made clear his intent to prevent Team Biden from reviving that terrible deal.

Cruz began by pressing Barbara Leaf, Biden’s nominee to serve as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs. He held up her nomination through the entirety of last year, and forced the Biden White House to resubmit her nomination to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee again in January. And while the committee voted her nomination out of the committee this week, that doesn’t mean the nomination will be cleared by the full Senate – ask any of the scores of foreign policy nominees who’ve been held up by Cruz’s holds for a year or more.

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As for lifting sanctions, Cruz is not a fan. In fact, he thinks that not only should the U.S. not lift sanctions, he thinks we should reimpose sanctions we have already lifted. Two weeks ago, he upped the ante, introducing S. 3857, a bill that would do exactly that, by terminating some of the Biden Administration’s waivers of sanctions previously imposed against Iran.

Anyone who doubts Cruz’s ability to force a vote on his legislation – he is a member of the minority party in the Senate, after all – would be wise to remember his success just a few months ago in using the powers of a single senator to maneuver a vote on his amendment to reimpose sanctions lifted by the Biden Administration on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. After demanding that vote from Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Cruz held firm for months and refused to release his holds on a bunch of nominations until he got the vote he wanted.

Since it worked once, it is reasonable to believe it could work again, so I would expect to see Cruz keep in place his current holds on Biden foreign policy nominees. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Cruz expand his effort – that is, impose more holds on more nominees – to get the point across to an administration that seems determined to keep the Senate in the dark on an international negotiation of great significance.

Designating the IRGC as a FTO had nothing to do with Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology. It had everything to do with the IRGC’s work over decades to kill Americans and support other terrorists who kill Americans and American allies. It would have been a reasonable thing to do even in the absence of any Iranian nuclear ambitions. That Iran’s foreign minister could toss into negotiations over the nuclear deal a demand that the U.S. do something unrelated to the subject of the negotiations – and declare that it’s a deal-breaker – shows just how confident he is that the current U.S. administration will go to ridiculous lengths to appease Iran.

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Thank goodness for Sen. Cruz.

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