Today, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, including a number of provisions Kaine helped negotiate, was unanimously passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 19-0. The bipartisan legislation would set up a constructive and deliberate process for Congressional review of a final nuclear agreement with Iran that touches upon statutory sanctions enacted by Congress. Under the compromise approved today, after a final deal is reached between Iran and P5+1 negotiators and submitted to Congress, Congress would have 30 days to hold hearings and either approve, disapprove, or take no action on giving Iran relief from Congressionally-imposed sanctions.
“I’m pro-diplomacy, and I see positives in the framework [agreement]. But I have also been strongly pro the need for congressional approval,” Kaine said in his opening comments. “There’s been some suggestion that, if you think Congress needs to approve this, you’re anti-diplomacy. That’s ridiculous. There’s even been some suggestion that, if you think Congress needs to approve this, you’re pro-war. That’s offensive. … I actually think that congressional approval, in this instance under the framework that is now before us, is necessary, helpful and what the American public demands and deserves.”
“It’s necessary,” Kaine continued, “because, at the core, this is a negotiation about what must Iran do to get out from under a congressional sanctions regime, so Congress will be involved. It’s helpful because, since Congress will be involved, the only question is, will that involvement be helpful and orderly, or will it be under free-for-all rules? Much better for us, much better for the Administration, much better for the P5+1, much better for Iran – we’re asking to make concessions, big concessions – for them to see a process that is orderly and constructive.”
In closing, Kaine noted the fact that Americans, in Virginia and across the country, overwhelmingly support Congress having a role in this process.
“Why do my constituents and yours want a deal to have to be approved by Congress? It’s not out of disrespect for the President, and it’s not because they love Congress. … They are so concerned about the magnitude of this deal that they’ll feel more comfortable if both the executive and the legislature take a look and say this is in the best interests of the nation. This is why people get a second opinion if they hear from a doctor something that they don’t like. The American public knows this is big. They feel more comfortable if it’s both the executive and the legislature reviewing it.”
As an original cosponsor of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, Kaine worked closely with Senators Corker, Menendez, Graham and others for months to produce the most constructive process possible for Congress to engage on a nuclear deal with Iran. Today, Corker thanked Kaine for his efforts and said he is “someone who understands truly the role of the United States Congress and issues of this significance, and has been a stalwart to articulate more clearly than anyone else why it’s important for us to take the role.”
Kaine, a strong supporter of diplomatic negotiations with Iran, recently praised the framework agreement announced by Secretary of State John Kerry on April 2, calling it a “positive step for diplomacy and efforts to peacefully limit Iran’s nuclear program.”