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Sen. King: Iran Oversight Legislation Is Triumph of Policy over Partisanship

In an op-ed published today, Sen. Angus King (I – Maine) hailed the bipartisan effort in the Senate that led to the passage of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 earlier this month and wrote that a nuclear-armed Iran is a danger “to the United States and to the rest of the world,” and that the nuclear negotiations “are some of the most important diplomatic talks in a generation.”

The United States and our P5+1 Partners – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany – are in the midst of pivotal nuclear negations with Iran. These negotiations are some of the most important diplomatic talks in a generation, and could potentially yield a deal that blocks Iran’s path to a bomb. But Iran has shown itself to be a dangerous exporter of terrorism, and we must make sure that any potential deal is both enforceable and verifiable. President Reagan once said, “Trust, but verify.” But on this particular agreement, the motto should be, “Don’t trust, and always verify.”

To that end, it’s very important that Congress has a productive and sensible say in approving or disapproving a deal. And in a rare triumph of thoughtful governing over partisan politics, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 earlier this month to make sure that responsible review can happen if a deal is reached. This bill would require that any final agreement with Iran be submitted to Congress for a 30-day review period before congressionally mandated sanctions on Iran could be waived or suspended by the president. A key element of the legislation is that the review would take place after any potential deal is reached with Iran, ensuring that any partisan gamesmanship doesn’t derail the ongoing negotiations.

I should note that the success of this bipartisan bill, which ended up passing the Senate by a vote of 98-1, did not happen overnight. I’ve been involved in the development of this legislation from the very beginning, when a bipartisan group of senators visited the Middle East back in January and began discussing the need for responsible congressional review of any deal. The group – which included me, Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., John McCain, R-Ariz., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., – laid the groundwork for what eventually became the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.

With the passage of the bill, King declared that if an agreement is reached between the P5+1 nations and Iran, “Congress stands ready to make sure that we can hold Iran to its end of the bargain.”

Also today, Lindsey Graham (R – S.C.), one of the senators cited by King, published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal calling on the administration to adopt eight principles to ensure the deal being negotiated will be sound and enforceable.

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, otherwise known as the Corker-Menendez bill, passed the Senate earlier this month by an overwhelming 98 – 1 margin. Last week parallel legislation in the House of Representatives passed by a 400 – 25 margin. President Barack Obama announced that he would sign the legislation if no conditions were added to the terms agreed to in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

[Photo: Senator Angus S. King, Jr. / YouTube ]