Congressional Majority Restricts Biden Options on New Iran Nuclear Deal

A congressional supermajority made up of both Democrats and Republicans voted Thursday evening to require any new Iranian nuclear deal to address Iran’s support for terrorist activities in the Middle East. Lawmakers also required the agreement not include removing U.S. sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The resolution is non-binding. It also directs the Biden administration to address the illegal Iranian ballistic missile program and the sale of Iranian oil to China that contradict existing U.S. sanctions.

It is legally uncertain whether the Senate should provide “advice and consent” regarding any finalized agreement as a treaty as defined by the Constitution. The Obama administration did not present the original 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) to the Senate for approval as a treaty.

Unlike Obama, Biden may face substantial pressure from Senate Democrats to present a new JCPA for approval as a treaty. In this critical midterm election cycle, Democrats know they are at risk with voters on the Iranian issues and several will demand a vote to deflect certain Republican attacks.

Several lawmakers described the vote as a “warning shot” to the State Department negotiating team. Those negotiators have reportedly said privately that a new agreement that demands anything from Iran other than curtailing its nuclear program is “no longer possible.”

The vote also serves as a preview for likely political backlash in the event that Biden can reach an agreement and decides to bypass asking for Senate approval.

In the original Iranian nuclear deal, Obama caved on Iranian requests to preserve its terrorist activities, preserving the Republican Guard, and their missile program. In addition, Obama paid billions of dollars to the regime to obtain the release of American hostages. Iran appears unwilling to soften its negotiating stance with Biden after the success it had with Obama.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menedez (D-NJ) wasn’t present for the vote on the resolution but said he would have voted for the restrictions. He said any agreement must address the concern of senators about “Iran’s trajectory” as it continues to “march toward a nuclear weapon.”