On Thursday, May 14, 2015, the House will consider H.R. 1191, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, as amended by the Senate, under suspension of the rules. The Senate replaced the text of the House-passed version of H.R. 1191 (the Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act) with the text of S. 615 as reported by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The Senate then approved the amended version of H.R. 1191 by a vote of 98 to 1 on May 7, 2015.
H.R. 1191, as amended by the Senate, requires Congressional review of any final nuclear agreement with Iran before the President can waive or suspend sanctions previously imposed by Congress.
Major provisions of the bill include:
Congressional Review: Requires the President to submit to Congress, within five days of concluding a comprehensive agreement with Iran: (1) the text of the agreement and all related materials; (2) a verification assessment on Iranian compliance; and (3) a certification that the agreement meets U.S. non-proliferation objectives and does not jeopardize U.S. national security, including not allowing Iran to pursue nuclear-related military activities.
No Suspension of Congressional Sanctions during Review Period: Prohibits the President from waiving statutory sanctions while Congress reviews the agreement. If the agreement and all related documents are submitted prior to July 10, 2015, Congress has up to 52 days to review the deal and may vote on the agreement in the first 30 days; the President then has 12 days to veto the bill, followed by 10 days for Congress to override such a veto. If the deal is submitted between July 10 and September 7, 2015, Congress has an additional 30 days of review, for a total of up to 82 days.
Joint Resolution of Disapproval: Gives Congress the opportunity to enact a joint resolution of disapproval (over a presidential veto) within the review period. Enactment of a joint resolution of disapproval would prevent the President from waiving or suspending the Congressional sanctions.
Oversight and Compliance: Requires the President to certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran is complying with the agreement. If Iran violates the terms of the deal, the legislation provides an expedited process for Congress to rapidly restore sanctions.
Reporting: Includes new reporting requirements on Iran’s direct and indirect support for terrorism, human rights violations, and ballistic missile testing.
Beginning in 2010, Congress overwhelmingly passed a series of strong economic sanctions, which largely were designed to bring Iran to the negotiating table regarding their nuclear energy and weapons programs. Included in those statutory sanctions are various national security waiver authorities and other provisions that the President could use to suspend sanctions on Iran as part of any final nuclear deal.
Currently, there is no limitation on the President’s use of waivers to suspend the sanctions Congress put in place; no requirement that Congress receive full details of any agreement with Iran; no review period for Congress to examine an agreement; no requirement that the President certify Iran is complying; and no way for Congress to quickly re-impose sanctions should Iran fail to comply.
The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act is designed to prevent the President from waiving or suspending sanctions before Congress has the chance to vote on an agreement, if one is reached, and allows Congress to permanently remove these authorities if it disapproves of the deal over a presidential veto.
On April 2, 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program that was negotiated in Lausanne, Switzerland. These elements form the foundation upon which the final text of the JCPOA will be written before June 30, and reflect discussions between the P5+1, the European Union, and Iran.
 See Senate Committee on Foreign Relations—“The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015,” Background and Key Details.
 The P5+1 is a group of six nations, which includes the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, plus Germany.
 See U.S. Department of State— “Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program,” April 2, 2015.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cannot determine whether enacting this legislation would affect the Federal budget because there is “no basis for determining when or if an agreement will be reached with Iran and whether or how the President would provide additional relief from sanctions if such an agreement is reached.”
For more information, please see the following material prepared by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations:
For questions or further information please contact Jerry White with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.