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John C.
Republican TX

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  • Hire More Heroes Act of 2015—Continued

    by Senator John Cornyn

    Posted on 2015-09-16

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    CORNYN. Mr. President, yesterday evening our Democratic friends across the aisle, led by the minority leader, again refused to allow the Senate to cast an up-or-down vote on a resolution that would make clear that the Senate disapproves of President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran. It is clear that there is, in fact, a bipartisan majority of both Houses that disapproves, but, using a procedural tool--the filibuster--our Democratic friends are trying to deny the American people an opportunity to cast a vote on this bad deal through their elected representatives and indeed I would suggest to also avoid the accountability that goes along with this because this movie will not end well.

    They are the No. 1 state sponsor of international terrorism. This deal gives them $100 billion to continue to finance terrorist attacks and proxy war against the United States and our allies. This has a phony inspection regime because it requires the United States to ask 24 days ahead of time to be able to inspect various sites. Indeed, we found out that on some of their military sites, the International Atomic Energy Agency--the IAEA--will not even be allowed to access those military sites but, rather, the Iranians will do their own inspection and then turn over their samples to the IAEA waiting dutifully at the gate of these military compounds where we know there is nuclear activity taking place.

    So this is really a lousy deal. I mean, assuming that we could somehow deny Iran a nuclear weapon, which used to be American policy, I think we would find a huge consensus. But, in fact, this also changes American policy. Rather than denying them a nuclear weapon, it would literally pave the way, essentially giving them a free hand in 10 to 12 years from now.

    We just observed the 14th anniversary of 9/11, September 11, 2001. It was only 14 years ago that we had a terrorist attack on our own soil. One of those airplanes was heading toward the U.S. Capitol, one hit the Pentagon, and of course two hit the World Trade Center in New York City. So the idea of paving the way for Iran to get a nuclear weapon in 10 or 12 years--when put in that context, that is certainly not very long. That means the nations in the Middle East are going to begin to arm themselves because they are not stupid. They realize a nuclear Iran is a threat to the region. Sunni countries, such as Saudi Arabia and others, will begin a nuclear arms race. Instead of suicide vests and improvised explosive devices, the prospect of a nuclear confrontation in the Middle East ought to send chills up and down anybody's spine. Yet that is exactly what our Democratic friends have embraced, along with the President.

    The irony is that in trying to shield President Obama from having to veto the resolution of disapproval, our Democratic friends have also thrown away a chance to improve the legitimacy of this deal by allowing an up-or-down vote. Why in the world would they feel the pressure to protect the President from something he is proud of, which is this Iranian nuclear deal? It doesn't make much sense. This deal on its own merits is indefensible.

    Thankfully, there is a small silver lining because this is not legally binding beyond the Presidency of Barack Obama. This is not a legal document or a treaty; it is a political agreement. I hope the next President understands that he or she will have complete freedom to tear this deal up and negotiate a better deal and keep the pressure on Iran and deny them a nuclear weapon.

    We have seen this happen before with issues such as ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank. If the shoe were on the other foot, were Republicans to try to jam through legislation such as this on a controversial topic on a purely partisan basis, it wouldn't have much staying power because you would not have built the sort of political consensus that would give it staying power. So the controversy continues.

    We have already spent a lot of time on this debate discussing and highlighting the weaknesses of this deal and the danger it poses for U.S. and world security. Those weaknesses, as I pointed out yesterday, have been highlighted by the deal's supporters. I mean, the statements that were made by some of the Senators who voted for this deal seemed to be completely at odds with their vote to filibuster the resolution of disapproval. So they are clearly nervous about this deal, as they should be.

    The fact is that, rather than making this a bipartisan consensus and making it purely a partisan matter--they will own the negative consequences of this deal because Iran's leaders, at the same time they have been negotiating this deal, have been shouting ``Death to America'' and saying that Israel will not even be on the map in 25 years. So the chances, I would think, of this deal turning out very badly--all of that responsibility will be in the laps of those who filibustered this deal.

    I pointed out that Iran is not giving up or disavowing its role as a foremost state sponsor of terrorism. In fact, all one has to do is go to the State Department's Web site, which is John Kerry's department. Secretary Kerry negotiated this deal. Right there on their Web site is pointed out Iran's role as a major sponsor of international terrorism, its ties to and funding of Hezbollah and Hezbollah's efforts to attack American interests in the Middle East, as well as Syria, Lebanon, Libya, and Iraq. All of this is very well documented. Almost all of the mischief, violence, killing, and threats to the security of that entire Middle East region have Iran's fingerprints all over it.

    As a result of some of the documents that were uncovered when Osama bin Laden was killed, we found out even more information. There was a story--I believe it was in the Wall Street Journal yesterday--about records of open cooperation between Al Qaeda and the Iranian regime and their attacks and pursuit on American interests. These are more facts about Iran's nefarious activities recorded in the administration's own public records.

    Of course, the regime continues to not deny or suppress but, rather, proudly announce its support of violence in the region and propping up proxy groups, as I said, that are fighting from Syria, to Iraq, to Yemen, and further destabilizing an already volatile region. To add to that mix, this deal dumps nuclear weapons. That is like pouring gasoline on a fire, except it is much more dangerous.

    Of course, this deal won't change any of those facts. In fact, President Obama and his national security advisers admitted that terrorist groups supported by the Iranian Government will likely be the real benefactors of sanctions relief under this deal. How will the Obama administration work to keep the billions of dollars that will pour into Iran as a result of this deal from being used to arm and otherwise finance the work of terrorists who seek to kill us and our friends and allies in the region? Well, they simply don't [[Page S6680]] have an answer for that because they know that is a byproduct or I should say a direct result of this bad deal.

    As I pointed out a moment ago, even after the deal was announced, the Supreme Leader in Iran and others continued their attacks on our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel. The so-called Supreme Leader of Iran went so are far as to say that Israel won't exist in 25 years. If they had their way, they would wipe Israel off the map.

    How does the administration plan to counter this theocratic regime that continues to call for the complete destruction of our Nation's closest ally in the Middle East, Israel? As far as I can tell, they don't have a plan, but that describes so much of their foreign policy.

    We have witnessed the refugee crisis in Europe and the heartrending pictures on the news of a young boy's body being washed up on shore because he was trying to get away from a war-torn region of the Middle East--Syria--to somewhere where it is safe so he could grow up and have a productive and normal life. I mean, they are heartrending pictures, but they are a result of this administration having no policy and no real strategy in Syria.

    So, really, this is more of the same--no strategy and no clue about how to deal with the dangers that confront the region and the people in the Middle East and its ripple effect on the rest of the world, including the United States.

    Tomorrow we will vote on a piece of legislation that addresses some major omissions from the President's executive agreement with Iran. Our friends across the aisle have made their bed and decided to lie down in it, and they have blocked now two times an up-or-down vote on this resolution of disapproval. They made that decision, so now it is time to have another vote and to fill in some of the gaps left by this bad deal.

    The bill we will vote on tomorrow is pretty straightforward. It will bar President Obama from lifting sanctions on Iran until two specific benchmarks are met. This doesn't solve all of the problems I mentioned a moment ago, but it will fill in a couple of important gaps. First, we will vote on whether Iran must formally recognize Israel's right to exist as a state, and if they don't, then the President will not be authorized to lift sanctions on Iran. Second, Iran must release American citizens whom it continues to hold hostage. This is the part I just really can't believe. We had this negotiated deal for months and months at the very highest level of the U.S. Government. Yet, under this deal, the leadership of the U.S. Government decides to leave American citizens in prison in Iran and doesn't use this as an opportunity to negotiate their release.

    This Chamber should wholeheartedly approve of these commonsense measures--one that calls for the safe return of our own citizens and one that affirms the right of our ally to exist. This is not a big ask. This does not fix all of the problems with this bad deal, but it does address two glaring deficiencies, and so I think that vote is entirely appropriate.

    In conclusion, I will just say that this deal is dangerous, misguided, and, you know what, it is pretty darn unpopular. As I said earlier, bipartisan majorities in both Houses of Congress oppose it, and for good reason. When we look at the public opinion polls, only 21 percent of the public supports this executive agreement.

    Tomorrow we will have an opportunity to let the voices of our constituents be heard loud and clear, and I hope our Democratic colleagues will come to their senses, quit playing defense for the White House, and join us in seeking the release of our U.S. citizens held captive abroad and the future security of our unwavering ally, the State of Israel.

    I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alabama.

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