WASHINGTON — United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) in today’s Senate Foreign Relations hearing questioned Wendy Sherman, President Joe Biden’s nominee to be the Deputy Secretary of State, on whether she would commit to submitting any decision to revive the Iran nuclear deal and a modify sanctions penalties against the Iranian regime for congressional review and vote as required under U.S. law.
Hagerty: “You mentioned earlier that the Biden Administration will follow the law. I’d just like to follow up on ranking member Risch’s comments here, if I might, because I think it’s very important that we talk about the oversight dynamic here. The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 requires the executive branch to submit to Congress any and all agreements that are related to the nuclear program of Iran. Those need to be submitted for congressional review. Ambassador Sherman, can you imagine any scenario in which the Biden administration would decide to participate again in the JCPOA concerning Iran’s nuclear program, or modifies any aspect of the current sanctions regime on Iran, and you would not submit this to Congress for review?”
Sherman: “It is always hard, Senator, I’m not a lawyer, but any lawyer would tell you and has told me, never to make a completely universal comment about [something]… what I will say to you is that this administration, the Biden-Harris Administration, Secretary Blinken are committed to following the law. And if indeed, whatever is decided falls within the terms of INARA, then we must indeed come to Congress.”
Hagerty: “I think this is the concern that a ranking member Risch and I have right now, and that is looking at very specific legal interpretation of the document and not looking at the purpose of the act. The purpose of the act is to ensure congressional review, not to find weasel words or ways to get out of complying with it. So I encourage this administration and you, if you’re confirmed, to find a way to comply with the purpose of this act.”
The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (Public Law 114-17), also known as “INARA,” requires the Executive Branch to submit to Congress any agreement related to Iran’s nuclear program for congressional review and vote. To reinforce INARA and prevent the Executive Branch from circumventing that law, Senator Hagerty last week introduced the Iran Sanctions Relief Review Act of 2021 (S. 488) that enable Congress to approve—or block—any Administration effort to suspend or terminate U.S. sanctions against the Iranian regime, regardless of whether or not this effort is related to an Iran nuclear agreement.