Monday, March 02, 2015

Bipartisan Rebuke of Obama on Cusp of Netanyahu Speech

Challenge to Obama with New Iran Bill - Josh Rogin

A bipartisan group of senators introduced new legislation to mandate congressional review of any nuclear deal the Obama administration strikes with Iran. The "Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015" would require President Obama to submit any nuclear deal with Iran to Congress for a 60-day review period, during which the administration would have to wait on implementing most parts of the deal. During that time, Congress would have the opportunity to vote on the deal, although there is no explicit requirement that it do so.

The new bill was finalized after three weeks of intense negotiations between Senate Foreign Relations Committee chiefs Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). "If a nuclear deal is reached, Congress will have an opportunity to review the agreement and, more importantly, ensure its compliance after it goes into effect. This legislation establishes that vital review and oversight process," Menendez told me.

Importantly, the new Corker-Menendez bill would require that the administration share with Congress all the details of any nuclear deal with Iran and report on its verification. "I believe Congress should weigh in on the content of the deal given the centrality of the congressional sanctions to the entire negotiation and the significant security interests involved," Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told me. 

Obama to Veto Bill - Julia Edwards

President Obama would veto a bill recently introduced in the U.S. Senate allowing Congress to weigh in on any deal the U.S. and other negotiating countries reach with Iran on its nuclear capabilities, the White House said.


Statement on White House Veto Threat

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made the following statement regarding the White House's threat of a presidential veto against his bipartisan bill requiring congressional review of any comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran. "It is disappointing that the president feels he is the only one who speaks for the citizens of our country," said Corker. "Congress put these sanctions in place and helped bring Iran to the table with the administration working against the effort the whole way. As a result, Congress should decide whether a final nuclear deal with Iran is appropriate enough to have the congressionally-mandated sanctions removed."

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act was introduced by Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), 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), and Angus King (I-Maine). 
(Senate Foreign Relations Committee)
Full Text of Proposed Bill (Senate Foreign Relations Committee)

AIPAC Publicly Breaks with White House - Jay Solomon & Carol E. Lee

The leadership of the most powerful pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. publicly broke Sunday from the White House over the issue of Iran policy during the first of a three-day policy conference in Washington attended by 16,000 of its members.

Leaders of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, outlined a strategy moving forward of working through Congress to disrupt any nuclear agreement with Tehran that is deemed too weak in denying the country a nuclear weapons capability. This would be achieved, they said, both by seeking to impose new sanctions on Iran and to block the White House's ability to lift standing U.S. sanctions, which would be required as part of any comprehensive agreement.

AIPAC leaders believe any final agreement with Iran must involve the complete dismantling of Iran's nuclear infrastructure, something Obama administration officials have said is no longer on the negotiating table. AIPAC also is seeking to impose new sanctions on Iran if there is no agreement by a late March deadline and to legislate an up-or-down vote in Congress. The White House is opposing both legislative actions.

Howard Kohr, AIPAC's executive director, said, "We shouldn't be afraid of Iran leaving the table." He also aggressively pushed back against the White House's argument in recent months that no deal with Iran would lead to war. "That's a false choice...that's meant to silence the critics," Kohr said. "And we won't be silenced." 
(Wall Street Journal)

Congress Should Hear Out Netanyahu - Editorial

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses Congress on Tuesday about the dangers posed by Iran's nuclear program, he will have to overcome the deafening political static created by the circumstances of his invitation. But Netanyahu deserves a respectful hearing. Like other nations in the region, Israel has understandable concerns about a nuclear-armed Iran. It is not only worried about a doomsday scenario in which Iran - whose anti-Zionist rhetoric is legendary - launches an attack on Tel Aviv; it also worries that an Iranian nuclear weapon would encourage countries such as Saudi Arabia to follow suit.

Hearing out Netanyahu doesn't mean abdicating to Israel this country's decision about whether it's possible to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran without making a fateful decision to use military force. If and when an agreement is reached, Congress should scrutinize it in all of its complexity.
(Los Angeles Times)

Right Time, Right Place - Yuli Edelstein

Imagine for a moment that your neighbor down the street was engaged in some basement science that could level your house and even kill you, if he so desired. Your best friend, who happens to live some distance away, out of harm's reach, can end the threat to your life and property but is now trying to legalize your neighbor's dangerous work. What would you do?

Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech to Congress has been preceded by so much talk of protocol and partisanship that we seem to have lost the forest for the trees. 

The speech on Tuesday is about whether we, as free people committed to democratic ideals, are still capable of standing together and resisting the temptation to compromise and appease our foes.
The writer is the speaker of Israel's parliament, the Knesset.
(Los Angeles Times)

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