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Tipsheet

As Biden Tries to Revive Iran Nuclear Deal, Ted Cruz Says 'Not So Fast'

Bill Clark/Pool via AP

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and 32 of his Senate colleagues sent a pointed reminder to President Joe Biden on Tuesday, pointing out that his administration's work to revive the Iran nuclear deal must be cleared through the upper chamber if it has any hope of succeeding. 

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Based on statements from Biden administration officials that current talks with Iran "have reached a 'political' inflection point," — comments covered by Townhall here — Cruz's letter raises "a range of obligations" the Biden administration "is statutorily mandated to fulfill in relation to congressional oversight of any such agreement."

Signed by Senators Hagerty, Cotton, Grassley, Marshall, Tillis, Rubio, Scott (SC), Cassidy, Braun, Scott (FL), Lummis, Wicker, Ernst, Boozman, Johnson, Barrasso, Young, Hyde-Smith, Cramer, Inhofe, Hoeven, Sasse, Daines, Toomey, Kennedy, Cornyn, Portman, Blackburn, Lee, Thune, Risch, and Sullivan, the letter reminds President Biden — and Iran — that any weak deals won't last for long even if one is implemented.

"We are committed to providing availability, assistance, and resources so you can fully meet these mandates," the Republicans' letter explains. "We also write to emphasize that we are committed to using the full range of options and leverage available to United States Senators to ensure that you meet these obligations, and that the implementation of any agreement will be severely if not terminally hampered if you do not." 

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Cruz's letter continues:

We reiterate our view that any agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program is of such gravity for U.S. national security that by definition it is a treaty requiring Senate advice and consent. Furthermore, genuinely robust nuclear agreement with Iran would be compelling enough to secure assent from two-thirds of the Senate — and the only reason not to present it for a resolution of ratification is that it is too weak to pass muster. Any agreement related to Iran's nuclear program which is not a treaty ratified by the Senate is subject to being reversed, and indeed will likely be torn up, in the opening days of the next Presidential administration, as early as January 2025. That timeline is roughly as long as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) survived implementation, and potentially even shorter.

"In the meantime," Cruz concludes, "the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015... mandates that your administration submit to Congress for evaluation, within 5 days after it is reached, any agreement related to the nuclear program with Iran, as well as all related documents and side deals. The submission of such materials then triggers a statutorily-defined review process, and includes the possibility of Congress blocking implementation of the agreement," the letter reminds.

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If this sort of message sounds familiar, it should. In 2015 while President Barack Obama (and Vice President Joe Biden) were working on the original Iran nuclear deal to give the regime money and access to the world economy again in return for alleged compliance with restrictions on its nuclear program, Republican senators raised a similar point. Led by Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) then, a letter signed by 42 senators was sent directly to Iran to explain that the Obama administration could not declare an agreement or maintain it without Senate ratification. 

Fast forward seven years, and Ted Cruz along with many of the senators who signed on to the 2015 letter are back again to remind now-President Biden of the same constitutional reality. 

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