(CNSNews.com) – Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner have it in their power to prevent the Iran nuclear deal from going ahead, on the grounds the administration has not produced all the documentation as required by law, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) argued Wednesday.
“There are two men in Washington D.C. who can defeat this deal,” Cruz told a Tea Party Patriots-organized rally on Capitol Hill, protesting against the Iran agreement.
“Under the terms of the Corker-Cardin review legislation, the clock does not begin ticking until the president hands over the entire deal, and he has not handed over the side agreements.
“What that means is that all that has to happen is for Mitch McConnell and John Boehner to say: ‘The congressional review period has not started. Under federal law, it is illegal for Obama to lift sanctions [against Iran],’” said Cruz, one of 17 Republicans campaigning for the party’s 2016 presidential nomination.
“Mitch McConnell and John Boehner can stop this deal if they simply enforce – if they simply enforce federal law.”
Cruz’ remarks came as conservative House Republicans persuaded their leadership to postpone a debate and vote on a motion disapproving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which the U.S. and five negotiating partners concluded with Tehran last July.
Like Cruz, they argue that Congress’ 60-day JCPOA review period provided for under the Corker-Cardin legislation has not even begun yet, due to the administration’s failure to submit all the relevant material.
At issue are “side deals” between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including one focused on inspections at Parchin, a military site where the Iranians are suspected to have carried out clandestine nuclear weapons work.
Over the summer, numerous lawmakers called on the White House to transmit the IAEA-Iran agreements to Congress. The administration has refused, saying such understandings between the agency and individual countries are customarily kept secret.
At a House GOP conference on Wednesday, leaders agreed to postpone debate on the resolution of disapproval, as members pressed for various last-ditch measures aimed at undermining the JCPOA.
Among them, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) has drafted a resolution raising a question of privileges under House rules. It directs the House Parliamentarian not to recognize the 60-day review period until the side agreements are transmitted to Congress.
The measure also directs the House Speaker to send a letter to President Obama, stating that the review period has not begun because the transmittal of the agreement “is incomplete as a matter of law,” and that as a result the president may not begin to lift or suspend statutory sanctions.
Cruz on July 30 introduced a Senate resolution declaring that the 60-day review period “cannot be considered to have begun until the Majority Leader certifies that all of the [Iran agreement] materials required to be transmitted have been transmitted.”
McConnell on Wednesday ruled out support for the initiative, telling reporters his reading of the law is that, come September 17 President Obama will feel free to move ahead with implementing the JCPOA. Sept. 17 is the generally-accepted review period end date, 60 days after the administration transmitted the text to Congress.
McConnell’s attention is geared towards getting Senate Democrats to agree to an up-or-down vote on the disapproval resolution, amid concerns that they may filibuster it instead.
In his speech Wednesday, Cruz said that simply because Obama decides to “ignore the law and try to lift sanctions” that does not absolve the heads of financial institutions which currently hold frozen Iranian assets.
“If this president behaves illegally and decrees you can hand that money over to Iran let me tell you now that does not exempt you from the legal obligation to follow the law,” he warned.
“And any bank that listens to this president and releases billions to an international terrorist like the Ayatollah [Ali] Khamenei will face billions of dollars in civil liability and litigation.”