Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) are hoping to slam the door on the Obama administration's ongoing effort to negotiate a nuclear agreement with Iran, and replace that effort with tough new sanctions that would be mandated by a new bill and could only be lifted if Iran abandons its nuclear program and renounces terrorism.
Their legislation is a rebuke to the administration's effort, and a signal that Obama's opponents will continue to call for a much tougher stance with Iran — one that essentially calls for treating Iran like an enemy nation instead of a possible negotiating partner.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has a new bill that would end the Iran nuclear talks and impose new sanctions until Iran agrees to give up its nuclear program and stop supporting terrorism. Image: AP Photo/Caledonian-Record,Paul Hayes
"As the self-perpetuating negotiations over Iran's nuclear program drag on, it is time for a moment of clarity," said Cruz. "It is time to tell the American people the truth."
"These talks are not going to prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, from getting a nuclear weapon," he added. "The Obama administration is circumventing the will of the American people, who do not support this deal."
Franks said the Obama administration is continuing to try negotiations with a country even in the face of "mounting evidence that Tehran is not negotiating in good faith."
"If Tehran is genuine about rejoining the family of nations as a respectable member, then it must demonstrate that with action," he said. "Until then, the United States cannot naïvely pursue a policy with the Iranian regime that is all carrot and no stick."
Under the bill, all sanctions that the Obama administration has relaxed would be reimposed, and new sanctions would be created to hit Iran's petrochemical and auto sectors.
It would also prohibit any federal spending on negotiations with Iran unless Congress first approves those talks, and spells out that the only way to lift U.S. sanctions is for Iran to completely dismantle its nuclear program and renounce its sponsorship of terrorism.
Obama's effort to reach a deal with Iran has come under increasing criticism from both Republicans and Democrats. Earlier this week, a top State Department official said Congress' only role in the effort would be to ease sanctions against Iran a few years after the deal takes effect.
But members of both parties rejected that approach at a hearing.
In the meantime, two key senators have said the would hold a committee vote in mid-April on a bill requiring any Iran deal to be reviewed by Congress. That committee vote could set up passage of the bill by the Senate, after which it could likely be approved easily in the House.
The administration has stressed repeatedly that it wants to take the Iran deal to the United Nations, but not to Congress for approval. Cruz said the administration shouldn't be allowed to go around the representatives of American citizens.
"The Obama administration is circumventing the will of the American people, who do not support this deal," he said. "This is precisely why the president is proposing that it be made through the United Nations Security Council instead of the United States Congress where Americans have direct representation, as our Constitution demands."