A dispatch from FCNL by Kate Gould
I’ve gotten lots of calls and messages from many of you asking me FCNL’s position on the new version of the Corker bill on Iran after it passed unanimously in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) this week. The simple answer is: FCNL continues to oppose this bill, for the reasons I explained to Politico. This legislation would–both in its past and current form–allow Congress veto power over whether the U.S. can fully implement a final agreement with Iran and the six other powers at the table.
However, there were some important improvements made to this bill that give us hope that the legislation in its current form might not derail the diplomatic negotiations that have made so much progress. These were only possible because people like you were willing to deluge the phone lines and inboxes on Capitol Hill, flood newspapers across the country with letters to the editor and op-eds, and most importantly: talk with your members of Congress and their staff about the risks this legislation poses to the negotiations.
The biggest change in the SFRC compromise legislation is the stripping of the so-called ‘terrorism provision,’ which would have brought in new conditions for a deal outside the scope of the framework agreement. It would have added an extremely vague requirment that the President certify throughout the duration of the agreement that Iran has not contributed to any attack against a US person or property in the world–a certification that is virtually impossible to make with any level of accuracy and one that could jeopardize the progress made on the nuclear front.
There were other important changes made as well—for a detailed analysis of what’s now in the bill, check out the National Iranian American Council’s detailed analysis. The White House has agreed not to veto this legislation given the various changes made. After the unanimous passage in SFRC, the Corker/Cardin compromise legislation is slated to be voted on the floor of the Senate as early as next week and is expected to easily pass, unless amendments are added that would detract from votes.
As I have noted to reporters, the game has really just begun. Proponents of a deal and opponents of a deal are gearing up for what seems likely to be the biggest war and peace vote of the year: a vote, mandated by the Corker bill, on whether the President can fully implement a crisis-ending agreement with Iran.
The New York Times editorial board pointed out that the stakes are high: “Congress has formally muscled its way into President Obama’s negotiations with Iran, creating new and potentially dangerous uncertainties for an agreement that offers the best chance of restraining that country’s nuclear program.”
There are new risks, but there are also new opportunities. Check out a terrific analysis by our friends at Americans for Peace Now about those risks and opportunities. It is clear that the most important debate on Iran is yet to come, and our job is to lay the groundwork for building the pro-diplomacy drumbeat now.
#DiplomacyWorks, the world is already safer
The most important work is being done by diplomats, scientists and leaders from the U.S., Iran and the other world parties that are putting together this deal. In the last 18 months, the world has already become a safer place because of the work of these negotiators who have put into place a political framework to guard against a nuclear-armed Iran and prevent another war. We are closer than ever before to a crisis-ending agreement with Iran.
So far, with your help, we’ve persuaded Congress to reject several negotiations-killing proposals to add more sanctions or attach unrealistic conditions to these talks. But as we are seeing this month, the danger is still there that Congress will act in a way that will prevent these negotiations from going forward.
Our job is to lay the groundwork for building the pro-diplomacy drumbeat now. We expect the final negotiations to be concluded in June and then a vote in the House and the Senate this summer and/or fall on whether the agreement can move forward.
You can help get Congress on the right side of history for that vote by urging your representative to support the Schakowsky-Doggett-Price letter in support of the negotiations, and calling on your members of Congress to speak out in support of a negotiated settlement over Iran’s nuclear program.
We can cross that finish line, but now it’s clearer than ever we need the millions upon millions of people in the US who support these historic negotiations to weigh in with their member of Congress.