New Jersey’s U.S. Senators welcomed a bill mandating congressional review of any Iran nuclear deal, and a decision by the White House not to block the measure.
The Obama administration had resisted previous efforts to give Congress a say in the potential deal, but relented after support for the bill began to grow among Democrats.
“I think they saw the dynamics and the growing support and for the proposition that we had the votes, and they decided to acquiesce to Congress having a role versus the constant push against it,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) in an April 14 radio interview.
“At the end of the day, it was pretty clear that the White House had the view that they didn't want Congressional participation except maybe five or 10 years from now to lift sanctions totally, assuming there's a deal. I think they came to the conclusion that it was moving in a different direction,” he said.
Menendez has been highly critical of the negotiations and co-sponsored legislation calling for stiffening sanctions against Iran and increasing congressional oversight of the negotiations.
He is co-author with Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) of a bipartisan compromise that would require a Congressional vote to approve the lifting of U.S. sanctions on Iran.
The vote would take place after the June 30 deadline for the final agreement between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany.
In an April 14 statement, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) also backed the proposed law.
“The Corker-Menendez bill sets up a reasonable mechanism for Congress to have a voice in the process that will help make any agreement with Iran as strong as possible,” he said.
The legislation would depend on the details of a final agreement with Iran to curb its nuclear program. It would prevent the Obama administration from lifting sanctions on Iran until Congress has completed reviewing the agreement. It would also require the administration to report to Congress on various issues relating to Iran, including its support of global terrorism and its nuclear program.
The compromise bill was stripped of elements that the White House found objectionable, including linking sanctions relief to Iranian actions on terrorism. It also shortened the review time from 60 days to 30 days.
“Let’s send a message to Tehran that sanctions-relief is not a given and certainly not a prize for signing on the dotted line,” said Menendez. “Iran must fully comply with all provisions of an agreement that effectively dismantles its nuclear weapons infrastructure and verifies compliance with every word of the deal.”