H.J. Res. 64, Disapproving of the agreement transmitted to Congress by the President on July 19, 2015, relating to the nuclear program of Iran

H.J.Res. 64

Disapproving of the agreement transmitted to Congress by the President on July 19, 2015, relating to the nuclear program of Iran

Sponsor
Rep. Ed Royce

Date
September 9, 2015 (114th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, September 9, 2015, the House will begin consideration of H.J. Res. 64, a joint resolution disapproving of the agreement transmitted to Congress by the President on July 19, 2015, relating to the nuclear program of Iran, under a closed rule.  H.J. Res. 64 was introduced on August 4, 2015 by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition, to the Committees on: Financial Services; the Judiciary; Oversight and Government Reform; and Ways and Means.

Bill Summary

H.J. Res. 64 resolves that the House and Senate disapprove of the agreement transmitted by the President to Congress on July 19, 2015, relating to Iran’s nuclear program.

Background

For more than two decades, Congress has developed and passed strong economic sanctions against Iran in response to Iran’s nuclear program, chemical and biological weapons programs, development of ballistic missiles, and support for terrorism.  These statutory sanctions recently brought the Iranian regime to the negotiating table to discuss the parameters of its nuclear energy and weapons programs. Included in these statutory sanctions are various national security waiver authorities and other provisions that the President has declared he will use to suspend sanctions on Iran as part of any final nuclear deal.[1]

Pursuant to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (Public Law 114-17), which the House passed by a vote of 400 to 25 on May 14, 2015, enactment of H.J. Res. 64 would remove the President’s current authority to waive U.S. statutory sanctions on Iran.

Until recently, there was 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.[2]

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) prevents the President from waiving or suspending sanctions before Congress has the chance to vote on an agreement, and allows Congress to permanently remove these authorities if it disapproves of the deal over a presidential veto.[3]

INARA includes the following provisions:

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.

On April 2, 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the outline of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program that was negotiated in Lausanne, Switzerland.  On July 14, 2015, Iran and the six nations that have negotiated with Iran over its nuclear program (the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany—collectively known as the P5+1) finalized the JCPOA. The U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 2231 on July 20, 2015, which “endorsed the JCPOA and called on U.N. member states to assist in its implementation.”[4]

The State Department transmitted the JCPOA, its annexes, and related materials to Congress on July 19, 2015.  Consequently, the 60-day review period established by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act began on July 20.[5]  Therefore, absent any extensions or congressional action, the President would be able to provide sanction relief beginning on September 18.  If the House and Senate pass a joint resolution of disapproval, the prohibition is extended by 12 calendar days.  Should the House and Senate pass, and the President veto, a joint resolution of disapproval, Congress would then have 10 calendar days to override such a veto.[6]

The agreement, ostensibly designed to limit Iran’s nuclear program to peaceful purposes, would provide broad relief from U.S., European Union (EU), and United Nations (UN) sanctions.  Click here for a detailed summary and analysis of the agreement provided by the Committee on Foreign Affairs and here for a Congressional Research Service report on selected issues surrounding the agreement.

Many military and foreign policy experts have raised concerns, however, that the agreement includes key shortcomings that will fail to ensure the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure while jeopardizing the security of America and its allies.  On August 26, 2015, a group of nearly 200 retired generals and admirals wrote House and Senate leaders urging Congress to reject the agreement, stating that “the agreement will enable Iran to become far more dangerous, render the Mideast still more unstable and introduce new threats to American interests as well as our allies.”

According to Chairman Royce, the agreement will have the effect of “reversing decades of bipartisan U.S. policy, removing Security Council resolutions against Iran’s illicit nuclear program, and endorsing Iran as a nuclear threshold state—able to quickly produce nuclear weapons on an industrial scale in the near future.”[7]

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[1] See Senate Committee on Foreign Relations—“The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015,” Background and Key Details.
[2] Id.
[3] Id.
[4] See CRS Report—“Iran Nuclear Agreement:  Selected Issues for Congress,” August 6, 2015, at Summary.
[5] See Committee on Foreign Affairs—“Iran Nuclear Agreement—Summary and Analysis,” at 9.
[6] Id. at 10.
[7] Id. at 1.

Cost

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate is currently unavailable.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact Jerry White with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.