Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 31, 2015

Posts in "Iran"

August 28, 2015

Tom Carper Brings Count of Iran Deal Supporters to 30

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., speaks during the Senate Democrats' news conference to urge Speaker Boehner bring the fully funded DHS bill up for a vote in the House on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Carper announced his Iran deal support in a Delaware newspaper. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

And then there were 30.

Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., became the 30th member of the Senate Democratic caucus to endorse the Iran deal late Thursday night.

Carper made his endorsement of the international nuclear agreement with Iran about nuclear development in an opinion piece prepared for publication Friday in The News Journal of Delaware.

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August 27, 2015

Ted Cruz Invites Donald Trump to Anti-Iran Deal Rally on Capitol Grounds (Updated)

donald trump

Trump is leading other Republican contenders in the polls. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 11:15 p.m. | Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has invited fellow presidential candidate Donald Trump to participate in a rally outside the Capitol against the international nuclear agreement with Iran.

The event is scheduled for Sept. 9, on the Capitol’s West Lawn, according to a statement from Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots. Martin’s organization is one of the groups Cruz’s campaign identified ad behind the event.

Trump, the businessman and reality TV star currently leading GOP polls, has accepted the invite to the event with the Texas Republican, having made reference to it while speaking Thursday in Greenville, S.C.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 2:58 p.m.
2016, Iran, Ted Cruz

August 26, 2015

As Prospects of Derailing Iran Deal Dim, Corker Eyes Next Step

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Corker says there will be more legislation after the Iran disapproval vote. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker is home in Tennessee, but he said Wednesday he’s been on the phone a lot about Iran — particularly with moderate Democrats.

The Republican said his role is to answer questions and foster debate, while making the case against the P 5+1 agreement to restrict the Islamic republic’s nuclear program. But, with the number of Democratic caucus members backing the Iran deal at 29 and expected to increase, Corker’s also looking ahead to other legislation in response.

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August 25, 2015

Patty Murray Joins in Supporting the Iran Deal

Could Murray help avert another government shutdown? (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Murray has become the 29th Democratic Conference member to back the Iran deal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The one member of the Senate Democratic leadership who had yet to announce a position on the Iran deal is supporting it.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Tuesday in a statement provided to CQ Roll Call ahead of release that she would be joining with Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois in lining up in favor of the international agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear development.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., is the lone Democratic leader on the other side.

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August 24, 2015

Reid Dismisses ‘Longshot’ Prospects for Iran Deal Filibuster

Reid was given a lifetime achievement award Tuesday for his environmental efforts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Reid is increasingly bullish about protecting the Iran deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid told reporters gathered in Las Vegas that filibustering a bill to disapprove of the nuclear deal with Iran would be a “longshot.”

Still, the Nevada Democrat has far from given up hope on rounding up not only the 34 votes needed to sustain a veto from President Barack Obama, but the 41 needed to thwart the GOP-led Senate from getting the disapproval legislation through the chamber at all.

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Why Harry Reid Needed to Announce Iran Deal Support When He Did

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Reid announced his support for the Iran deal Sunday, one day before hosting Obama in Las Vegas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced Sunday he would support the international nuclear agreement with Iran and work to ensure it survives a GOP-led disapproval effort, the Nevada Democrat avoided what could have been an awkward Monday.

Reid is hosting dignitaries at his National Clean Energy Summit at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The list of speakers is headlined by President Barack Obama, as well as Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz — a key U.S. negotiator on the Iran deal. After the event, Obama and Reid are scheduled to attend a Democratic fundraiser to benefit former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, the Democrat with Reid’s backing to succeed him in 2017.

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August 18, 2015

Rhode Island Senators Join Ranks of Iran Deal Supporters

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Reed announced his support for the Iran deal on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Hours after a Senate Democrat announced his opposition to the Iran deal, two more have come out in support.

Rhode Island Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse came together Tuesday to announce that they would support the agreement. Reed, an Army veteran and West Point graduate, is the ranking member on the Armed Services Committee.

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Winds Blowing Against Menendez as He Blasts Iran Deal

Menendez Iran Deal

As expected, Corker and Menendez are both opposing the Iran deal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Robert Menendez surprised no one Tuesday when he became the second Democratic senator to oppose the Iran deal, but the momentum is clearly in favor of the deal among Democrats.

“Unlike President Obama’s characterization of those who have raised serious questions about the agreement, or who have opposed it, I did not vote for the war in Iraq, I opposed it, unlike the vice president and the secretary of State, who both supported it,” the New Jersey Democrat said. “My vote against the Iraq war was unpopular at the time, but it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 1:58 p.m.
Democrats, Iran

August 14, 2015

Rubio to Pledge to Invite Dissidents to His Inauguration

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Marco Rubio will announce that political dissidents would be guests of honor at the inauguration in January 2017 should he be elected president.

The Florida Republican plans to make that statement in a speech Friday morning in New York City.

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By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 12:25 a.m.
2016, Cuba, Iran

August 11, 2015

Democrats’ Heir Apparent Looks Past Obama Era on Iran Deal

The White House may want Charles E. Schumer tossed overboard as the next Democratic leader, but presidents don’t get a vote.

The senior New York Democrat’s opposition to the Iran nuclear deal comes as Schumer looks ahead to an era when Obama will be writing his memoirs and Schumer will set the Senate agenda. Full story

August 9, 2015

Ted Cruz to States: Impose Your Own Iran Sanctions

UNITED STATES - AUGUST 9: Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) seen through red balloons, arrives to speak to supporters during the Cruz campaign bus tour rally in Pelham, Ala., on Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Cruz, seen through red balloons, said states should explore their own sanctions against Iran. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)


PELHAM, Ala. — Sen. Ted Cruz said Sunday that doing everything possible to thwart the Iran deal should include states exploring imposing their own sanctions.

The Republican presidential candidate from Texas was asked at a raucous town hall-style forum here about the prospects of states taking action to impose sanctions on the money the Obama administration has agreed to release as part of the deal regarding the country’s nuclear development.

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August 7, 2015

Cruz Calls on Schumer to Lead the Charge Against Iran Deal

Cruz called on Democrats to join Schumer in denouncing the Iran nuclear deal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Cruz called on Democrats to join Schumer in denouncing the Iran nuclear deal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)




MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. — Amid a deluge of criticism from Obama administration allies for stepping forward and speaking against the international agreement with Iran regarding nuclear development, New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer is winning praise from unlikely quarters.

On Friday, Republican presidential hopeful and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz joined the list, applauding the No. 3 Democratic leader for his “bravery.” Full story

August 6, 2015

Obama Allies Blast Schumer on Iran Deal, Talk of New Leader (Updated) (Video)

Could Schumer face a leadership challenge over the Iran deal? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Could Schumer face a leadership challenge over the Iran deal? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:14 a.m. | Did Sen. Charles E. Schumer just open himself up to a serious challenge to lead Senate Democrats in 2017? Top allies of the president say yes — and a major liberal advocacy group now wants him gone. announced a “donor strike” after the New York Democrat’s announcement that he opposes the Iran deal and compared him to Joseph I. Lieberman, while former senior White House aide Dan Pfeiffer warned the Democratic base wouldn’t support Schumer for leader. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 11:47 p.m.
Chuck Schumer, Iran

Schumer Opposes Iran Deal (Updated)

Schumer opposes the Iran Deal (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Schumer opposes the Iran Deal (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:14 a.m. | Charles E. Schumer, the No. 3 Senate Democrat and one of President Barack Obama’s closest allies, announced late Thursday he will oppose the Iran deal and urge his colleagues to join him, just one day after Obama slammed the critics of the Iran deal as making common cause with hardliners in Iran chanting “death to America.”

The New York Democrat’s full statement is lengthy and significantly complicates the White House’s full-court press, which is relying almost entirely on Democrats to sustain a veto. It also gives Republicans a powerful PR shield against increasingly strident attacks from the president on down that the opponents of the deal only have one real alternative: war.

Schumer says sanctions should be continued and strengthened and negotiate for a better deal.

Schumer’s opposition, however, comes amid what had been growing momentum for the deal inside the Democratic caucus, including the support from the junior senator from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand, earlier Thursday.

And there was an immediate backlash from administration allies and liberal groups questioning his status as the heir apparent to Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

In a statement provided to CQ Roll Call shortly after announcing his opposition, Schumer indicated that he would work to get votes against the Obama administration’s position on the nuclear agreement with Iran.

But, the presumed next Democratic leader acknowledged that he knew colleagues have and would continue to reach different conclusions.

“There are some who believe that I can force my colleagues to vote my way,” Schumer said. “While I will certainly share my view and try to persuade them that the vote to disapprove is the right one, in my experience with matters of conscience and great consequence like this, each member ultimately comes to their own conclusion.”

Schumer, however, could face a challenge for his leadership of the party following his statement. Several Obama allies questioned his future leadership of the party late Thursday.

Here’s Schumer’s full statement:

Every several years or so a legislator is called upon to cast a momentous vote in which the stakes are high and both sides of the issue are vociferous in their views.

Over the years, I have learned that the best way to treat such decisions is to study the issue carefully, hear the full, unfiltered explanation of those for and against, and then, without regard to pressure, politics or party, make a decision solely based on the merits.

I have spent the last three weeks doing just that: carefully studying the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, reading and re-reading the agreement and its annexes, questioning dozens of proponents and opponents, and seeking answers to questions that go beyond the text of the agreement but will have real consequences that must be considered.

Advocates on both sides have strong cases for their point of view that cannot simply be dismissed. This has made evaluating the agreement a difficult and deliberate endeavor, and after deep study, careful thought and considerable soul-searching, I have decided I must oppose the agreement and will vote yes on a motion of disapproval.

While we have come to different conclusions, I give tremendous credit to President Obama for his work on this issue. The President, Secretary Kerry and their team have spent painstaking months and years pushing Iran to come to an agreement. Iran would not have come to the table without the President’s persistent efforts to convince the Europeans, the Russians, and the Chinese to join in the sanctions. In addition, it was the President’s far-sighted focus that led our nation to accelerate development of the Massive Ordinance Penetrator (MOP), the best military deterrent and antidote to a nuclear Iran. So whichever side one comes down on in this agreement, all fair-minded Americans should acknowledge the President’s strong achievements in combatting and containing Iran.

In making my decision, I examined this deal in three parts: nuclear restrictions on Iran in the first ten years, nuclear restrictions on Iran after ten years, and non-nuclear components and consequences of a deal. In each case I have asked: are we better off with the agreement or without it?

In the first ten years of the deal, there are serious weaknesses in the agreement. First, inspections are not “anywhere, anytime”; the 24-day delay before we can inspect is troubling. While inspectors would likely be able to detect radioactive isotopes at a site after 24 days, that delay would enable Iran to escape detection of any illicit building and improving of possible military dimensions (PMD) – the tools that go into building a bomb but don’t emit radioactivity.

Furthermore, even when we detect radioactivity at a site where Iran is illicitly advancing its bomb-making capability, the 24-day delay would hinder our ability to determine precisely what was being done at that site.

Even more troubling is the fact that the U.S. cannot demand inspections unilaterally. By requiring the majority of the 8-member Joint Commission, and assuming that China, Russia, and Iran will not cooperate, inspections would require the votes of all three European members of the P5+1 as well as the EU representative. It is reasonable to fear that, once the Europeans become entangled in lucrative economic relations with Iran, they may well be inclined not to rock the boat by voting to allow inspections.

Additionally, the “snapback” provisions in the agreement seem cumbersome and difficult to use. While the U.S. could unilaterally cause snapback of all sanctions, there will be instances where it would be more appropriate to snapback some but not all of the sanctions, because the violation is significant but not severe. A partial snapback of multilateral sanctions could be difficult to obtain, because the U.S. would require the cooperation of other nations. If the U.S. insists on snapback of all the provisions, which it can do unilaterally, and the Europeans, Russians, or Chinese feel that is too severe a punishment, they may not comply.

Those who argue for the agreement say it is better to have an imperfect deal than to have nothing; that without the agreement, there would be no inspections, no snapback. When you consider only this portion of the deal – nuclear restrictions for the first ten years – that line of thinking is plausible, but even for this part of the agreement, the weaknesses mentioned above make this argument less compelling.

Second, we must evaluate how this deal would restrict Iran’s nuclear development after ten years.

Supporters argue that after ten years, a future President would be in no weaker a position than we are today to prevent Iran from racing to the bomb. That argument discounts the current sanctions regime. After fifteen years of relief from sanctions, Iran would be stronger financially and better able to advance a robust nuclear program. Even more importantly, the agreement would allow Iran, after ten to fifteen years, to be a nuclear threshold state with the blessing of the world community. Iran would have a green light to be as close, if not closer to possessing a nuclear weapon than it is today. And the ability to thwart Iran if it is intent on becoming a nuclear power would have less moral and economic force.

If Iran’s true intent is to get a nuclear weapon, under this agreement, it must simply exercise patience. After ten years, it can be very close to achieving that goal, and, unlike its current unsanctioned pursuit of a nuclear weapon, Iran’s nuclear program will be codified in an agreement signed by the United States and other nations. To me, after ten years, if Iran is the same nation as it is today, we will be worse off with this agreement than without it.

In addition, we must consider the non-nuclear elements of the agreement. This aspect of the deal gives me the most pause. For years, Iran has used military force and terrorism to expand its influence in the Middle East, actively supporting military or terrorist actions in Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, and Gaza. That is why the U.S. has labeled Iran as one of only three nations in the world who are “state sponsors of terrorism.” Under this agreement, Iran would receive at least $50 billion dollars in the near future and would undoubtedly use some of that money to redouble its efforts to create even more trouble in the Middle East, and, perhaps, beyond.

To reduce the pain of sanctions, the Supreme Leader had to lean left and bend to the moderates in his country. It seems logical that to counterbalance, he will lean right and give the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) and the hardliners resources so that they can pursue their number one goal: strengthening Iran’s armed forces and pursuing even more harmful military and terrorist actions.

Finally, the hardliners can use the freed-up funds to build an ICBM on their own as soon as sanctions are lifted (and then augment their ICBM capabilities in 8 years after the ban on importing ballistic weaponry is lifted), threatening the United States. Restrictions should have been put in place limiting how Iran could use its new resources.

When it comes to the non-nuclear aspects of the deal, I think there is a strong case that we are better off without an agreement than with one.

Using the proponents’ overall standard – which is not whether the agreement is ideal, but whether we are better with or without it – it seems to me, when it comes to the nuclear aspects of the agreement within ten years, we might be slightly better off with it. However, when it comes to the nuclear aspects after ten years and the non-nuclear aspects, we would be better off without it.

Ultimately, in my view, whether one supports or opposes the resolution of disapproval depends on how one thinks Iran will behave under this agreement.

If one thinks Iran will moderate, that contact with the West and a decrease in economic and political isolation will soften Iran’s hardline positions, one should approve the agreement. After all, a moderate Iran is less likely to exploit holes in the inspection and sanctions regime, is less likely to seek to become a threshold nuclear power after ten years, and is more likely to use its newfound resources for domestic growth, not international adventurism.

But if one feels that Iranian leaders will not moderate and their unstated but very real goal is to get relief from the onerous sanctions, while still retaining their nuclear ambitions and their ability to increase belligerent activities in the Middle East and elsewhere, then one should conclude that it would be better not to approve this agreement.

Admittedly, no one can tell with certainty which way Iran will go. It is true that Iran has a large number of people who want their government to decrease its isolation from the world and focus on economic advancement at home. But it is also true that this desire has been evident in Iran for thirty-five years, yet the Iranian leaders have held a tight and undiminished grip on Iran, successfully maintaining their brutal, theocratic dictatorship with little threat. Who’s to say this dictatorship will not prevail for another ten, twenty, or thirty years?

To me, the very real risk that Iran will not moderate and will, instead, use the agreement to pursue its nefarious goals is too great.

Therefore, I will vote to disapprove the agreement, not because I believe war is a viable or desirable option, nor to challenge the path of diplomacy. It is because I believe Iran will not change, and under this agreement it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power. Better to keep U.S. sanctions in place, strengthen them, enforce secondary sanctions on other nations, and pursue the hard-trodden path of diplomacy once more, difficult as it may be.

For all of these reasons, I believe the vote to disapprove is the right one.

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By Steven Dennis Posted at 10:22 p.m.
Chuck Schumer, Iran

August 5, 2015

Senate Heads for Recess After Reaching Deal on Iran, Cyber Debates (Video)

McConnell pledged to hold a vote on a 20-week abortion ban bill. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

McConnell announced no further votes before recess. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate’s figured out how to go ahead with debates on both the Iran deal and cybersecurity legislation — debates that will not happen in earnest until after the August recess.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., secured an agreement to take up a congressional disapproval of the deal between the P5+1 powers (the U.S., Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany) and Iran that President Barack Obama made the case for during a speech at American University earlier Wednesday.

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