Cruz ups pressure over Iran human rights
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Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate confirms four Biden ambassadors after delay Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised The Senate confirmation process is broken — Senate Democrats can fix it MORE (R-Texas) wants to reduce the State Department's budget for every 30 days that a report on Iran's handling of human rights is delayed. 

Cruz, who is running for president, and Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission  Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls MORE (R-Ill.) have introduced legislation that would withhold 5 percent of the State Department's operating budget for every 30 days that an annual human rights report, which includes Iran, is delayed. 
 
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The report is required to be released by Feb. 25. 
 
Cruz said having the report is "critical" before Congress votes on a long-term deal on Iran's nuclear program. Negotiators are currently facing an end-of-the-month deadline to lock down an agreement. 
 
The administration has argued that Iran's handling of human rights, while a concern, should be separate from the ongoing nuclear talks, though some Senate Republicans have rejected that argument. 
 
John Kirby, a spokesman for the State Department, said the delayed release "has nothing to do with the Iran negotiations." 
 
"That is a completely false notion, absolutely no truth to it at all. We recognize that the report is late by several months. We’re working very hard on that," he told reporters last week. "And I expect that you will see that report released in the very near future." 
 
The legislation follows a letter sent to Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryThe real reason Biden is going to the COP26 climate summit The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Budget negotiators: 72 hours and counting US can lead on climate action by supporting developing countries MORE by Cruz and Kirk, as well as Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley — TikTok, Snapchat seek to distance themselves from Facebook Rubio calls for federal investigation into Amazon employee benefits Senate GOP campaign arm outraises Democratic counterpart in September MORE (R-Fla.), who is running for president, Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziCheney on same-sex marriage opposition: 'I was wrong' What Republicans should demand in exchange for raising the debt ceiling Senate votes to end debate on T infrastructure bill MORE (R-Wyo.), David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonHerschel Walker calls off fundraiser with woman who had swastika in Twitter profile Georgia reporter says state will 'continue to be a premier battleground' Critical race theory becomes focus of midterms MORE (R-Ga.) last month asking about the report
 
Cruz's legislation wouldn't impact the State Department's funding for worldwide security protections.