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PRICE CONDEMNS POLITICAL IRAN BILLS

July 14, 2016
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman David Price (NC-04) gave the following remarks on the one-year anniversary of the Iran nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). House Republicans took votes this week on the latest in a series of bills designed to undermine the deal.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this and the other two bills before the House this week regarding Iran—all of which weaken our national security and our international standing, and all of which the President has rightly threatened to veto.

If there is a silver lining to this debate, it is that the majority has given us an opportunity to acknowledge the one-year anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which has made the world safer by severely constraining Iran’s nuclear activities and subjecting them to unprecedented international oversight.

Yet instead of celebrating this landmark achievement, the majority is seeking to undo it.  H.R. 5119, H.R. 4992, and H.R. 5631 collectively would deny Iran even limited access to foreign investment and other meaningful incentives that encourage compliance with the JCPOA.

These are just the latest in a series of Republican efforts to undermine this historic nuclear agreement negotiated with the world’s major powers.  Since the deal was finalized, Republicans have tried again and again to undermine not just the JCPOA but also the credibility of the President of the United States on the international stage.

It appears the Iran nuclear agreement has become the “Obamacare” of foreign policy.  Republicans repeatedly proclaim it a failure, despite its objective success.  They call for its immediate repeal without offering any viable alternative, despite the potentially disastrous consequences of such action.  And they continue to clutter the congressional calendar with so-called message votes – instead of addressing issues facing our nation.

These legislative antics continue even though opponents of the JCPOA know full well that strong sanctions on Iran remain in place targeting the country’s human rights violations, ballistic missile development, and support of terrorism.    

The bill before us, H.R. 5631, would impose additional, mandatory sanctions on the Iranian regime for these same violations.

There is no one in this chamber about to let Iran off the hook for its egregious human rights violations or its proliferation of terrorism and ballistic missile technology. And our Republican friends know full well that should a violation of the JCPOA occur, we can put sanctions like these in place immediately. So why are we doing this bill now?

Must we conclude that our colleagues are more interested in unraveling one of President Obama’s signature accomplishments than they are with the facts of the matter?  Let’s take a look at the facts:

Because of this agreement, an Iranian nuclear weapon is not an imminent threat to the United States or our allies, including Israel. 

Because of the agreement, the breakout time for Iran to develop enough weapons-grade material for a nuclear weapon went from two or three months to a year or more; the international community has 24/7 access to Iran’s critical nuclear sites; and we possess an enforcement mechanism to verify Iran’s compliance. 

By all objective accounts, Iran has upheld its end of the bargain, and it is vital that we uphold our end.

This isn’t just my opinion:  this week, a bipartisan group of more than 75 national security experts sent a letter to President Obama stating that “Iran has remained in compliance with its commitments” and “all pathways to an Iranian nuclear weapon have been blocked.”  I ask that this letter be included in the Congressional Record in its entirety.

This agreement is too important, and the stakes are too high, to treat the issue as another political football.  The safety and security of the United States, of Israel, and of the region depend on the successful implementation and diligent enforcement of the JCPOA. 

Instead of scoring political points, or seeking to deny the President a significant foreign policy achievement, we should be working together in a bipartisan manner to ensure the agreement’s success.  

We should be working together to explore ways to enhance coordination and cooperation with Israel and the international community to address unacceptable Iranian behavior, such as support for Hezbollah and abuse of human rights.  And yet we find ourselves here, one year after the agreement’s announcement, still dealing with “Obamacare”-style gamesmanship.  

It is beneath this institution, and the world is watching.  We may think a bill that has no chance of being signed into law doesn’t matter, but to the leaders of China, or Russia, or Iran, it sends a signal of hesitation and disunity.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill, and the bills that will come before us tomorrow, and to focus instead on ensuring the success of the JCPOA and reinforcing the agreement’s role in making the world a safer place.