Insisting on Evidence, Two U.S. Lawmakers Want a Bipartisan Commission to Consider the Iranian Nuclear Deal

The representatives, a Republican and a Democrat, submit their bill while the Trump administration is considering decertifying the deal next month

The U.S. Capitol stands in Washington on September 27, 2017.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation Wednesday to form a bipartisan commission to verify whether Iran is complying with the 2015 nuclear deal. The two lawmakers, Democrat Gerry Connolly and Republican Francis Rooney, presented their bill at the same time that the Trump administration is considering an announcement next month that would decertify the nuclear deal, possibly leading to its collapse.

Connolly and Rooney are seeking to set up a commission that would include 16 members of Congress and four representatives of the executive branch who would examine intelligence data together and reach a conclusion regarding Iran's compliance with the deal. Their proposed commission would include eight Republican and eight Democratic legislators and representatives from the departments of State, Energy, Treasury and Defense.

Connolly, who has represented Virginia's 11th district since 2008, explained on Wednesday: "Increasing public transparency surrounding the Iran deal's implementation is a critical priority. Congress has a role to play in effective oversight of this agreement, and we must assert that role regardless of whether the president certifies Iran's compliance. This commission ensures that the effort to constrain the Iranian nuclear program receives the attention it deserves."

Rep. Gerald Connolly, on Capitol Hill, June 28, 2017
Andrew Harnik/AP

Rooney, a first-term congressman from Florida who served as ambassador to the Vatican in George W. Bush's administration, explained that he is proposing this legislation "to hold Iran accountable for compliance with the terms of the nuclear agreement. Iran cannot be trusted to act in good faith or be allowed to move forward with development of nuclear weapons. This bill is a good first step in ensuring that Iran acts within the boundaries of the agreement that was previously made."

Last week, a group of leading Democratic senators wrote to the Trump administration asking that his department notify Congress on any new evidence that shows Iran is not in compliance with the nuclear deal. Their letter was perceived as a warning to the Trump administration that if the president decides next month to scrap the nuclear deal by declaring that Iran is not in compliance, Congress would demand intelligence-based evidence to support that decision.

The International Atomic Energy Agency declared three weeks ago that Iran is in compliance with the deal, and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made a similar assessment when testifying before Congress on Tuesday.