Conservative Group Threatens To Sue Biden Administration If It Resurrects Iran Deal

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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A conservative legal organization is threatening to sue the Biden administration if it attempts to re-enter the Iran nuclear agreement without congressional approval.

The America First Legal Foundation, an organization led by former Trump administration officials, argued in a Thursday letter to President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Attorney General Merrick Garland that re-entering the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) without a congressional vote would violate the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA). They warn that they will file a lawsuit if the administration does not submit a new agreement to Congress for a vote, and call on the administration to preserve all relevant records.

“The JCPOA failed to protect U.S. national security, enriched the Iranian regime, and enabled international terrorism. At best, the JCPOA merely delayed Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons while preserving its nuclear research and development activities,” America First Legal wrote in the letter, first reported on by the Washington Free Beacon.

Biden campaigned on re-entering the JCPOA, which then-President Donald Trump exited in 2018. One hundred-fifty House Democrats declared their support for Biden’s promise in December 2020, seemingly giving him a veto-proof majority to seek a return to the agreement. Unlike a treaty, which requires two-thirds Senate approval to become law, INARA allows an Iran nuclear agreement to become law unless Congress issues a veto-proof resolution of disapproval. Congress would need a two-thirds majority in both chambers to override a veto of a disapproval resolution, making a new agreement likely should the Biden administration decide to enter one.

Some Democrats have joined Republicans in expressing concern about such a deal, however. Chief diplomatic envoy Robert Malley reportedly agreed that the U.S. would lift sanctions on major human rights abusers as part of a return to the JCPOA. In addition, the White House seriously considered lifting terrorist sanctions against the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps, although Washington Post columnist David Ignatius reported on April 8 that the administration would not do so. (RELATED: Republicans Blast Biden Administration For ‘Giving Away The Store’ To Iran In Sanctions Negotiations)

The Biden administration continued to negotiate with Iran, despite reports that Supreme Leader Ali Khameni ordered the assassinations of former Trump administration officials John Bolton and Mike Pompeo on U.S. soil. National security adviser Jake Sullivan referenced “terror operations inside the U.S. and elsewhere around the world” against “those serving the U.S. now and those who formerly served,” in a January statement. Negotiations were reportedly only put on pause due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, since Russian negotiators demanded sanctions relief as part of a deal.

Eighteen House Democrats spoke out against a new agreement at a recent press conference, with several pinpointing proposed sanctions relief for terrorists.

“The IRGC, Iran’s paramilitary terror arm, has directly, or through their proxies including Hezbollah, Hamas, and PIJ, killed hundreds of Americans, and attacked our bases and our allies in the region. Strengthened with billions of dollars in sanctions relief, Iran would be an enormous danger to Americans at home and abroad, and to our allies,” New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer said.

“Congress must stand united in ensuring that we impose strict nuclear restrictions on Iran. As the Biden Administration continues negotiations to achieve an agreement, we hope they will take Iran’s role as one of the world’s leading state-sponsors of terror into consideration,” Florida Rep. Darren Soto added.