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Congress Moves to Reassert Oversight as Nuke Deal Deadline Approaches

Roll Call reported Thursday that lawmakers are preparing a series of steps aimed at reasserting Congressional oversight over the final contours of a nuclear deal between the P5+1 global powers and Iran, a few weeks after leaked audio revealed that the Obama administration has been planning for almost a year to circumvent the House and Senate in structuring the agreement. Bipartisan anger on the Hill has been running high since the emergence of the audio, which had been recorded at roughly the same time – last winter – that the State Department was assuring lawmakers that they would be given a role in shaping the talks’ outcome. Roll Call quoted Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn) telling reporters that “there will be a desire very quickly after the first of the year for Congress to weigh in on the topic in some form or fashion.”

Al Monitor’s Congress Pulse quoted the same statement:

Corker’s comments followed similar signals from current committee chairman Robert Menendez, (D-N.J.), and Mark Kirk, (R-Ill.), whose sanctions bill has garnered 60 co-sponsors but has been blocked from coming to the floor all year by outgoing Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

The outlet outlined a recent letter penned by the two lawmakers, in which they emphasized that Iran should be forced to meet long-standing international demands regarding its atomic program. The letter maintained that an acceptable deal would have to “dismantle, not just stall, Iran’s illicit nuclear program” and would see Iran “coming clean on all possible military dimensions (PMD).”

The Al Monitor article also conveyed Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), declaring that “the [insistence] on dismantlement continues to put Kirk and Menendez in the camp of those pushing for unrealistic demands.” That insistence had been a condition laid down by the Obama administration and has been repeatedly emphasized as a critical prerequisite by huge majorities of Senators and House members. A NIAC staffer discussing sanctions on the Hill was blasted by the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in 2013 for pushing “propaganda put out by the Iranian regime.”

[Photo: Face the Nation on CBS / YouTube]