McCarthy: No rubber stamp on Iran nuclear talks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Updated, 2:27 p.m.: Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy vowed Wednesday that House Republicans will not sit idly by while the Obama administration unilaterally negotiates a resolution with Iran over that country’s nuclear program.
The Obama administration, according to news reports, is considering sweetening its offer to Iran in the ongoing negotiations, allowing the regime to operate 4,000 centrifuges, up from an earlier 1,300.
The White House and the State Department have not commented on the the reports, which originated with an Iranian news agency.
But the development has set off alarms with lawmakers like McCarthy, who called the news “worrisome.” The California Republican promised “extensive oversight” of the administration’s handling of the Iranian negotiations.
The Senate’s No. 2-ranked Republican, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, also warned the president against overstepping his authority on the Iran deal.
“The American people will not tolerate a President who wheels and deals with a radical regime behind their backs and dodges congressional oversight every chance he gets,” the Texas Republican said in a statement. “Any agreement with Iran to provide further relief from U.S. sanctions must be done in conjunction with Congress in an open and transparent way to ensure it advances America’s national security.”
Here’s McCarthy’s full statement:
Recent reports have suggested the Obama Administration believes it can negotiate a deal with Iran and provide significant sanctions relief to the Iranian regime without Congressional support. This Administration has a long record of ignoring and threatening to ignore Congress.
While this unilateralism alone is distressing, it is made even more worrisome in light of additional reports that the Administration may be willing to yet again make significant concessions to the Iranians in the nuclear negotiations. As the President and his team know full well, there is overwhelming, bipartisan concern on Capitol Hill about Iran’s nuclear and missile programs, its sponsorship of terrorism, its promotion of instability throughout the region, and its appalling human rights record. Congress will not simply look the other way if the Administration agrees to a deal that does not make sufficient progress in rolling back Iran’s nuclear program. Although the precise mechanics of Congressional approval or disapproval will depend on what exactly the President decides to do, the nature of the agreement, and a variety of other factors, I can promise that Congress will conduct extensive oversight regarding the details of any deal or extension of the current Joint Plan of Action.
Separate from the conduct of the nuclear negotiations, I remain concerned the Administration lacks an effective strategy to combat Iran’s malign influence throughout the region. Whether in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, or Yemen, Iran’s support for terrorism and its destabilizing activities threaten the interests and security of the United States and its key allies and partners in the region. I look forward to the Administration consulting with Congress about how to confront this grave threat.
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