With deadline looming, Kirk pledges to move on Iran nuclear sanctions

 

With a nuclear talks deadline around the corner and no deal in sight, 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.) said Thursday he will "definitely" reintroduce sanctions legislation on Iran in the next Congress. 

"I think the Republicans will definitely bring it up. It's a movie we're going to see again," Kirk said on Capitol Hill. "The Republican majority will be working with [Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellUS could default within weeks absent action on debt limit: analysis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown Senate dodges initial December crisis with last-minute deal MORE (R-Ky.)] about when the time is to come up for a vote on that."

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Kirk's remarks come days ahead of a Monday deadline for international and Iranian negotiators to reach a comprehensive agreement aimed at preventing Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon.

The legislation, co-authored by Kirk and Sen. Bob Menéndez (D-N.J.), would automatically impose sanctions on Iran if it violates any final agreement or if walks away from the talks, and has gained the support of at least 15 Democrats.

Kirk said he was building towards a veto-proof majority in the House.

Republicans will have at least 53 votes in the Senate, and would only need 14 Democrats for a veto-proof majority there. Kirk said he had the support of 17 Democratic senators.

Current Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBottom line Voters need to feel the benefit, not just hear the message Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama MORE (D-Nev.) had refused to bring the bill up for a vote, in deference to White House concerns it would kill a deal.

"The one thing that the president's been [relying] on is Harry Reid, and we got rid of him. So he's no longer going to have the power to ... schedule anything. All that power goes to Mitch, who is a strong supporter of Menéndez-Kirk," the Illinois lawmaker said.

Republicans have vowed to pass the legislation regardless of whether or not a nuclear deal is reached. The GOP wants to protect a sanctions regime it believes helped pressure Iran to come to the negotiating table in the first place.

To reinforce that point, Kirk and 42 other Republicans sent a letter to the president Wednesday night warning him not to unilaterally suspend sanctions on Iran, circumventing Congress's role in lifting them. McConnell was a signatory.

"Unless the White House genuinely engages with Congress, we see no way that any agreement consisting of your administration's current proposals to Iran will endure in the 114th Congress and after your presidential term ends," they warned.

Kirk said the letter was sent to President Obama to "announce the arrival of the Republican majority on this issue [and] that for the administration to know they don't have a single member of the majority who supports their position. Not one."

Kirk said Obama's pending announcement on executive action on immigration shows that he prefers to "go it alone."

"On the Iranian agreement, if you don't ask for help, you're not going to get any help."