On Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, and Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew testified on the Iran nuclear deal before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) hit Kerry and his entourage with a tough opening statement, questioning what the future of American and Middle Eastern security would look like under the deal.
“Instead of us considering a verifiable, enforceable, and accountable agreement, we are being asked to consider an agreement that gives Iran permanent sanctions relief for temporary nuclear restrictions. Should Iran be given this special deal?,” Royce asked.
Royce also objected to the way the deal had been rushed to the UN Security Council for approval before Congress had a chance to review it. He explained that the Obama administration had initially opposed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, passed in May.”So I was not entirely surprised when the Administration went against bipartisan calls and gave Russia and China and others at the U.N. Security Council a vote on this agreement before the American public. That’s backwards–and wrong,” Royce said. The UN Security Council passed the deal unanimously last week, with a 15-0 vote.
Fellow Californian Rep. Ami Bera also weighed in, walking through a list of prepared questions.
“I am absolutely convinced beyond any doubt that this deal makes Israel safer, and the region and the world,” Kerry said, when asked by Bera for his thoughts. Kerry noted he believes President Obama also shares that opinion, despite pleas from Israelis on both sides of the political spectrum.
At one point during the hearing, Royce said that Iran’s neighbors, who know the nation best, trust it the least. “Iran has cheated on every agreement they’ve signed,” Royce said. Kerry attempted to address that point at several points throughout the hearing, saying, “nothing in this deal is built on trust. Nothing.”
Another Californian, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), asked whether the administration would “follow the law” on existing congressional sanctions if Congress voted to override President Obama’s veto on the deal. “I can’t begin to answer that at this point without consulting with the President and determining what the circumstances are,” Kerry replied.
“So you’re not committed to following the law?” Sherman pressed again, to which Kerry said, “I’m not going to deal with a hypothetical, thats all.”
A poll released the same day as Tuesday’s hearing by CNN/ORC suggests that the majority of Americans want Congress to reject the Iran deal.