Floor Speech on Senate Consideration of Iran Sanctions Legislation by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell

February 26, 2014

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

I’d like to start this morning with a few words about an issue that should be of grave importance to all of us — and that’s the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.

It is no exaggeration to say that this is one of the most significant foreign policy challenges of our time, and one we simply have to get right.

That’s why a strong bipartisan majority has sought to pass legislation here in the Senate that puts teeth into the negotiations that have followed November’s interim agreement.

And that’s why Republican senators — and hopefully some Democrats senators as well — will continue to press the Majority Leader to allow a vote on this legislation before these negotiations end.

The Nuclear Weapon-Free Iran Act is a perfectly reasonable bill.

It doesn’t disrupt ongoing negotiations. It simply provides an incentive for Iran to keep its commitment under the interim agreement.

It says that if Iran doesn’t keep its word, then it faces even tougher sanctions than before.

In other words, it puts teeth into the talks that are already taking place.

And it’s a recognition of the success we’ve already had as a result of prior sanctions.

After all, there’s good reason to believe that sanctions are what brought the Iranians to the table in the first place.

So it just stands to reason that if the Iranians break this interim deal, they should face even tougher sanctions than before.

That’s especially true given the fact that we’re running out of tools here short of the use of force.

This bill is the best mechanism we have to keep the Iranians at the table until we get the right outcome, and ensure that they’re sticking to their end of the agreement.

We should not fall victim to Iran’s efforts at public diplomacy.

And let me just repeat that strong bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress agree with that concept.

So there’s simply no good reason for the Majority Leader to prevent a vote on this crucial legislation.

There is no excuse for muzzling the Congress on an issue of this importance to our own national security, to the security of Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East, and to international stability more broadly.

This is that rare issue that should unite the two parties in common purpose. And there’s no question that it would if the Majority Leader would simply drop his reflexive deference to a President whose foreign policy is focused on withdrawing from our overseas commitments.

A foreign policy that, at worst, poses a serious threat to our own security and that of our allies.

So once again I call on the Majority Leader to allow the Congress to serve its purpose and express itself in our nation’s policy toward Iran. Let our constituents speak on this all-important issue on which so many of us from both parties agree.

In the Joint Plan of Action, the President made clear that he opposes additional sanctions. Let Congress speak.

Let’s stand together for a forward-deployed, ready and lethal force that makes our commitments real in the eyes of friend and foe alike.

Let’s hold Iran accountable. Let’s do the right thing, approve this legislation, and send it to the President’s desk.

The clock is ticking. The time to act is now.