Corker: No timetable on new Iran sanctions bill

While Trump threatens to terminate Iran deal if Congress fails to act, top GOP Senator expresses little urgency on timetable to pass sanctions legislation

WASHINGTON – The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker (R-TN) emphasized that lawmakers have no looming deadline to pass tougher sanctions legislation against Iran. “I don’t have any timetable,” Corker told Jewish Insider on Monday evening. “We’ll get it passed when it’s ready.”

Senators Tom Cotton (R-AK) and Corker have revealed their intention to propose legislation that would amend the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) by reimposing nuclear sanctions if Iran came within a year of obtaining nuclear weapons, and thus eliminating the sunset provisions currently in place.

On October 13, President Donald Trump announced that he would decline to certify Tehran’s compliance with all of the terms of the 2015 nuclear agreement. He called on Congress to address the deal’s “flaws” and warned that if lawmakers were unable to reach a solution, then the agreement would be “terminated.” The next 90 day deadline for Trump to decide on certification is January 15, and no Congressional action by that date could lead the President to take more direct action.

At the same time, Corker put much of the responsibility for passing the bill back on the President’s shoulders. “The White House and the State Department have a lot of work to do to bring our European allies along. There is going to be a period of venting, which they are going through right now. Democrats aren’t going to be real interested in coming on if our European allies are in a different place,” Corker explained.

While Corker was once of the President’s strongest supporters, the two Republicans recently engaged in a war of words with Trump calling the Tennessee lawmaker “liddle.” Corker responded by calling the White House an “adult day center.”

With the legislation proceeding through regular order, Corker and Cotton will require the backing of 60 Senators to overcome a likely Democratic filibuster. However, the Foreign Relations Chairman clarified that they are interested in being “flexible” with Democrats to attract greater support from members of both parties. “He (Sen. Ben Cardin D-MD) knows we aren’t trying to stuff him. This isn’t where we are trying to find 60 people. This is something we hope to pass with 80-85 votes, so this is something that we want to ease along with and be an overwhelming vote,” Corker noted.

Prior to the President’s October 15 decision, Corker declined to voice his opinion regarding whether Trump should have certified the deal. When asked if this was the best move, Corker replied, “There were arguments being made both ways. It doesn’t really matter. You deal with the situation as it is.”

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