Diplomacy

Congressional Quarterly: “Groups on Opposite Sides of the Iran Debate” Converge on Consensus Obama Needs Congress to Lift Iran Sanctions

Congressional Quarterly (CQ) on Wednesday assessed that “groups on opposite sides of the Iran debate” were converging on the need to give Congress a strong voice in the Obama administration’s diplomacy with Iran, just days after bipartisan letters to the White House from both the House and the Senate were read as moves designed to reassert Congressional prerogatives amid ongoing negotiations.

An American Israel Public Affairs Committee-backed letter written by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., is drawing support from groups like the left-leaning pro-Israel organization J Street — and is not being opposed by groups like the National Iranian American Council.

NIAC is widely considered to be among the most pro-Iranian lobbies in Washington, and has been slammed by members of Congress for peddling “propaganda put out by the Iranian regime.” CQ specifically quoted a NIAC statement declaring that the Administration must go to Congress in order to eventually lift nuclear-related sanctions on Iran.

Although NIAC opposes the Menendez-Kirk letter over “old ultimatums” that contradict the Joint Plan of Action, the NIAC statement backs the notion that Congress needs to lift sanctions. “It is critical that Congress work with the Administration to ensure necessary authorizations are in place to enable nuclear-related sanctions to be lifted, as outlined by the JPOA,” the statement reads. “Those authorizations do not currently exist.”

A spokesman for the group, Jamal Abdi, said that if the president uses his powers to temporarily waive sanctions and periodically update those waivers, it could lead to a weak deal, and if he concludes he can lift them entirely, there will be backlash from Congress that could unravel any deal.

Mark Dubowitz, the Executive Director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, noted that the NIAC statement marked agreement between both “pro-Israel and pro-Iran lobbies” on the point that “Obama cannot lift sanctions without Congress.”

 

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