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Corker Opens Senate Debate on Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015

Bill Requiring Congressional Review of any Final Nuclear Deal with Iran Gains 62 Senate Sponsors and Passed 19-0 in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today opened Senate debate of his bipartisan legislation, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, that would require the president to submit any final nuclear deal with Iran to Congress before being able to waive or suspend congressional sanctions. Last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously to approve the legislation, which now has 62 cosponsors, including Corker. Increasing bipartisan support for the bill in advance of the committee vote forced President Obama to lift his veto threat.

“Without this bill, there is nothing stopping the president from bypassing the American people, immediately waiving sanctions imposed by Congress and unilaterally implementing an agreement with Iran. This legislation ensures the president will submit an agreement to Congress for review and a vote,” said Corker.

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 contains the following key provisions:

Congressional Review: Within five days of concluding a comprehensive agreement with Iran, the president must submit to Congress (1) the text of the agreement and all related materials, (2) a verification assessment on Iranian compliance, and (3) a certification that the agreement meets U.S. non-proliferation objectives and does not jeopardize U.S. national security, including not allowing Iran to pursue nuclear-related military activities.

No Suspension of Congressional Sanctions During Review Period: The president is prohibited from suspending, waiving or otherwise reducing congressional sanctions for up to 52 days after submitting the agreement to Congress. Following an initial review period of 30 days, the legislation includes an additional 12 days if Congress passes a bill and sends it to the president. If the president vetoes the legislation, Congress would have an additional 10 days to override a veto. If the deal is submitted between July 10 and September 7, the review period increases to up to 82 days (60 days plus 12 days for the president to veto and 10 more days for Congress to override a veto). During this period, Congress may hold hearings and approve, disapprove or take no action on the agreement. Passage of a joint resolution of disapproval (over a presidential veto) within the review period would permanently prevent the president from waiving or suspending the congressional sanctions. 

Congressional Oversight and Iranian Compliance: After the congressional review period, the president would be required to provide an assessment to Congress every 90 days on Iran’s compliance with the agreement. In the event the president cannot certify compliance, or if the president determines there has been a material breach of the agreement, Congress could vote, on an expedited basis, to restore sanctions that had been waived or suspended under the agreement. It also requires the president to make a series of detailed reports to Congress on a range of issues, including Iran’s nuclear program, its ballistic missiles work, and its support for terrorism globally, particularly against Americans and our allies. With this information, Congress will be able to determine the appropriate response in the event of Iran sponsoring an act of terrorism against Americans. 

The legislation was coauthored by Senators Corker, Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.). Cosponsors of the bill include Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Bill Nelson (D- Fla.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Angus King (I-Maine), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Mark Warner (R-Va.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Thune (R-S.D.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), David Vitter (R-La.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

For full text of the bill, click here. A one-page bill summary is available here, and a section-by-section summary is posted here.