WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz said on Tuesday Congress should use the threat of a government shutdown to force President Barack Obama's administration to hand over more information about the nuclear agreement with Iran.
Days after a deadline passed for Congress to vote on the nuclear pact, the 2016 presidential hopeful said any legislation to fund the government after Sept. 30 must require the administration to hand over information about "secret side deals" involving inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities.
On Sept. 17, the deadline for reviewing the agreement, Obama's fellow Democrats in the Senate for a third and last time blocked Republican legislation meant to kill the Iran nuclear deal. The vote conserved perhaps the greatest foreign policy win of his presidency.
Cruz has tried in the past to use must-pass spending bills, like the one coming due on Oct. 1, as vehicles to kill Obama initiatives, like his healthcare overhaul and immigration policy changes. The strategy has failed, but has forced temporary shutdowns.
Any stop-gap funding bill should use "the power of the purse to force this administration to hand over the Iranian side deals," Cruz told reporters at the U.S. Capitol.
Cruz said it would be Obama, not him, who would force a government shutdown if the president jeopardized government-wide funding by refusing to detail the Iran side deals.
The "side deals" refer to arrangements between Iran and international nuclear inspectors that lay out a framework for inspections. The International Atomic Energy Agency insists details of such arrangements must be kept confidential.
Cruz also wants any spending bill to defund the women's healthcare provider Planned Parenthood, because it provides abortion services.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Patricia Zengerle; editing by David Gregorio)