Just days before a deadline for an update on a potential announcement of a nuclear agreement with Iran, one Republican senator likely to run for president is renewing a sanctions push.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is poised to introduce an updated version of legislation Thursday that would revive all sanctions previously loosened by the Obama administration, as well as expand petrochemical sanctions. Companion legislation is expected to be filed in the House of Representatives.
Among the provisions is a requirement that the Iranian government renounce state sponsorship of terrorist activities.
According to a draft summary obtained by CQ Roll Call, Cruz's bill would declare that any deal sent to the United Nations Security Council doesn't bind future U.S. governments without action by Congress (either through the enactment of a law or consent to ratification of a treaty).
That is akin to the sentiment of an open letter signed by 47 Republican senators led by Tom Cotton of Arkansas to the Iranian leadership that was the subject of much contention and criticism last week. The Cotton letter sought to address the role of Congress and future presidents in any potential agreement with Iran.
The updated bill comes with the White House and others in the administration continuing to make the case that congressional action at the current stage of negotiations with Iran could derail the sensitive talks.
"While the negotiations are taking place, it is vital that we prevent any actions that would lead the world to believe the United States was responsible for their failure," Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday morning. "Such actions include enacting new sanctions or other measures that will be incredibly damaging to ongoing negotiations. We do not believe that the country's interests are served by Congressional attempts to weigh in prematurely on this sensitive and consequential ongoing international negotiation aimed at achieving a goal that we all share: using diplomacy to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon."
Before the April recess, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is likely to move forward with debating legislation designed to give Congress a say in any deal that comes as a result of the talks with the Iranians.
Action was previously deferred on that measure after Democratic backers, led by Foreign Relations ranking member Robert Menendez of New Jersey, said they wouldn't support moving forward with this bill until after a March 24 deadline.
Ahead of that key date next week, the Obama administration has ramped up efforts to avoid facing a veto-proof level of support, highlighted by a Saturday letter from White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., detailing the administration's opposition to his congressional approval legislation.
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