I learned two important lessons from my years as a lawyer: never enter negotiations with the mentality that you need a deal no matter what, and always be willing to walk away from the table. Ignoring this mindset is a recipe for disaster—and it’s exactly the mistake that led the Obama administration into one of the worst diplomatic agreements in American history.
Over the past decade, Congress has led the charge to pass crippling economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran to achieve one goal: permanent and verifiable assurances that the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism never achieves a nuclear weapons capability. The sanctions, by all accounts, succeeded in bringing Tehran to the brink of economic collapse: Iran’s gross domestic product plummeted, oil exports nosedived, and massive inflation ensued. Allowing this pressure to build proved the best opportunity to prompt the meaningful, lasting concessions necessary to prevent Iran from ever going nuclear.
Instead, the Administration decided to negotiate in good faith with a murderous regime that, to this very day, arms and finances terrorism worldwide, persecutes and executes minorities, and imprisons innocent American citizens. Iran was rewarded with billions of dollars in sanctions relief for simply coming to the negotiating table. Longstanding international prohibitions on Tehran maintaining a domestic nuclear enrichment program were kicked to the curb. Other important dimensions of a nuclear weapons program, including ballistic missiles and warheads, were dismissed as irrelevant to the negotiations.
Fast-forward 19 months and many, many negotiating “deadlines” later and you have the mess we find ourselves in today. The Administration, unable to abandon its helpless search for a foreign policy legacy, has caved to nearly every single Iranian demand to secure a deal. Tehran stands to benefit from upwards of $150 billion in sanctions relief without dismantling a single centrifuge or nuclear facility. Two Iranian demands that were until recently nonstarters—lifting the U.N. arms embargo and ban on ballistic missiles—were granted as last-minute concessions. The alleged “anytime, anywhere” inspections regime, which would be critical to enforcing and verifying the deal, actually requires notifying Iran upwards of 24 days prior to an inspection. And most key restraints on uranium enrichment, centrifuge capacity, and plutonium reprocessing are set to expire within 10 to 15 years. This isn’t trust but verify—it’s trust and hope.
Preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon has never been, and should never be, a partisan issue. This is not about President Obama or the 2016 election, but the safety and security of the United States and our allies. The fact remains that a fair assessment concludes that this is a dangerous agreement that will, at best, only temporarily delay Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Therefore, we must do everything in our power to stop it.
In approximately 60 days, Congress will have an opportunity to vote on the deal. Over the past 48 hours, many colleagues have joined me in expressing their opposition to this accord. The results, so far, have been encouraging: over 170 House members have cosponsored my legislation, H. Res. 367, expressing disapproval of the agreement. This is a good start, but stopping this deal will require a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate to override a presidential veto. While it may be an uphill battle, it’s not an impossible task—and we have a responsibility to try.
This is where you come in. If you agree that this deal must be stopped, pick up the phone and urge your congressman and senators to vote against it. Send an email to their offices. Request a meeting with them or their staff. Encourage your representative to cosponsor H. Res. 367. If the American people rise up against this agreement, we can still prevent Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon. But the time is short and the time is now.