Poll Finds Bipartisan Support for Making Any Iran Agreement a Treaty Requiring Senate Consent

By Patrick Goodenough | June 11, 2021 | 4:18am EDT
Then-Secretary of State John Kerry and his nuclear deal negotiating partner, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, in New York in 2016. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images)
Then-Secretary of State John Kerry and his nuclear deal negotiating partner, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, in New York in 2016. (Photo by Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – As the Biden administration continues to pursues a U.S. re-entry into the Iran nuclear deal, a recent opinion poll finds strong bipartisan support for any agreement with the regime in Tehran to be a treaty, presented to the U.S. Senate for advice and consent.

Sixty-three percent of respondents in the survey, conducted by GS Strategy in conjunction with Christians United for Israel (CUFI), expressed support for “requiring that any deal made between the United States and Iran be presented to the United States Senate for ratification as a treaty.”

Twenty percent of respondents were opposed, and 17 percent said they were unsure.

Strikingly, Democratic respondents favored a Senate ratification requirement by an even larger margin (69 percent) than did Republicans (61 percent) and independents (61 percent).

(Image: CUFI)
(Image: CUFI)

“It was a mistake for President Barack Obama to try to bypass the Senate [with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear accord], but President Biden can learn from that mistake,” said CUFI Action Fund chairwoman Sandra Parker.

“He can and should commit to sending any negotiated agreement with Iran over its nuclear program to our elected representatives,” she said. “That’s what voters in his party want, and it’s what the American people expect.”

Last April, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced a bill that would prohibit the use of federal funds to rejoin the JCPOA “unless the President commits to submit any successor agreement to the Senate for advice and consent as a treaty.” Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) is leading a similar effort in the House.

Going further, two weeks ago Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) offered an amendment to a technology bill, requiring the president to submit to Congress, as a treaty, “any agreement” relating to Iran’s nuclear program.

It would also prevent the administration from waiving, suspending, or limiting sanctions on Iran before the Senate has ratified.

“Any potential agreement with Iran involves risks that affect our entire nation,” Johnson said. “It is critical to the security of America and to world peace that any deal Biden negotiates with Iran be deemed a treaty requiring approval by the U.S. Senate.

The amendment was supported by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), James Risch (R-Idaho), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

The issue is a significant one: The Obama-Biden administration deliberately did not seek the Senate’s advice and consent for the JCPOA, acutely aware that it would struggle to secure the two-thirds majority required.

You can’t pass a treaty anymore,” then-Secretary of State John Kerry, a key architect and champion of the nuclear deal, told lawmakers at the time.

Instead, the administration portrayed the deal a political agreement of commitments among participating governments – or, in Kerry’s words, “an agreement reached executive-to-executive between leaders.”

The negotiated agreement, an attempt to prevent the regime from acquiring nuclear weapons, offered Tehran sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear energy program.

Deprived of an opportunity to provide “advice and consent,” Congress sought other ways to have its say on the deal. It passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act in May 2015, and Republicans then put forward a “resolution of disapproval,” an option provided for in that legislation.

However, in a series of votes in the fall of that year all but four Senate Democrats – Sens. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Ben Cardin (Md.), and Joe Manchin (W.V.) -- blocked attempts to advance the resolution, clearing the way for the most momentous foreign policy initiative of the Obama administration to move ahead.

In mid-2018, President Trump withdrew from the JCPOA, and reinstated U.S. sanctions against the regime. Iran in response took a series of steps in violation of its obligations in the accord, including exceeding limits on purity of uranium enrichment and centrifuge numbers.

President Biden pledged to return to the deal, as long as Iran returns to compliance.

A sixth round of talks in Vienna aimed at achieving that goal is scheduled to begin within days, State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed on Thursday.

In other findings, the GS Strategy/CUFI poll found that 65 percent of respondents supported the U.S. strategy in place since 2018 – “of imposing new economic sanctions targeting Iran’s support for terrorism and terror financing, and taking a harder line against Iran’s military leaders.”

Offered a choice between the U.S. renewing the nuclear deal with Iran and the U.S. maintaining sanctions against Iran, 56 percent of respondents favored sanctions while 30 percent supported renewal of the deal.

Forty percent of respondents identified themselves as registered or affiliated Democrats, 35 percent as Republicans, and 20 percent as independents.

See also:

Large Majorities of US Voters Think Iran Deal Should be Reworked and Require Senate Ratification (Oct. 24, 2017)

Kerry: Iran Deal Not a Treaty ‘Because You Can’t Pass a Treaty Anymore’ (Jul. 29, 2015)

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