GOP looks to add 'poison pill' to Iran deal

Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted out a bill that would give Congress more oversight over the terms of the Iran nuclear agreement. 

The bill was passed in the wake of the administration's waffling on sanctioning Iran over its illegal missile program.


The Republican-led House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee approved the measure by a voice vote, setting it up for consideration by the full House next week.

Opponents say the "Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act," which would increase lawmakers' oversight of the Iran agreement announced in July, is an attempt by Republicans to violate terms of the landmark deal with new legislation because they could not muster enough opposition to scuttle it last year.

Republicans said the measure would hold the Democratic administration to its commitment not to ease pressure on Iran's support for terrorism or its ballistic missile program.

Secretary of State John Kerry said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif assured him when they spoke on Thursday that Tehran intended to complete its obligations on implementation of the nuclear deal as quickly as possible. He also told a news briefing the Obama administration would keep a close eye on Iran's missile and other activities.

Several Foreign Affairs committee Democrats, including some who opposed the nuclear deal last summer, vehemently objected to the Iran oversight measure.

"I believe it doesn't serve any purpose to have bills like this that are designed to kill the deal," said U.S. Representative Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

"I don't want to vote 62 or 63 times on killing the Iran agreement," he said, in a reference to congressional Republicans' dozens of votes seeking to repeal Obama's healthcare reform law.

Engel was one of several Democrats who came out against the agreement with Iran, saying he did not believe the Tehran government would keep its promise to curb its nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief.

Sources familiar with the situation said last week that the Obama administration was preparing sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program, but decided not to go ahead after informing members of Congress.

The bill makes it more difficult for the president to ease sanctions on Iranian banks and financial institutions.  Essentially, it's a poison pill in that the goal of the measure would be to upset the Iranians and hope they pull out of the agreement.

Given the opposition of Democrats – even those who opposed the deal – the bill is not likely to reach the president's desk.  But it signals the White House that Obama should stop walking on eggshells when it comes to legitimately and legally sanctioning Iran for their illegal activities.

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