Secretary Kerry to testify before Senate panel on Iran deal

Secretary of State John Kerry and two other senior administration officials will testify next Thursday on the Iran deal before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) announced Thursday.

It will be the Senate’s first hearing on the nuclear agreement with Iran since it was unveiled Tuesday morning. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, who joined Kerry for negotiations, and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will also testify.

The top officials will face skeptical members of the panel that includes some of the fiercest critics of the Iran deal — and two Republican presidential hopefuls.

Corker said on Tuesday he would withhold judgment on the deal until he reviews it, but that he would “begin with skepticism.”
“Two years ago, we had a roguish country with a boot on its neck, and we went from dismantling their program to now managing their proliferation and if the public comments that are being made are true, we’re actually going to allow them to industrialize their nuclear program after year eight.”

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) has offered the toughest criticism from the Democratic side, saying in a statement on Tuesday, “The bottom line is: The deal doesn’t end Iran’s nuclear program – it preserves it.”

Congress has 60 days to review the deal, which would lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on its nuclear program.

The hearing will be the first in a series of hearing the committee intends to hold on the deal, as Congress deliberates whether to vote on a resolution of approval, disapproval, or take no action.

A resolution of disapproval would prevent the deal from going into effect.

The administration can afford to lose no more than 12 Democratic senators in order for Congress to override a presidential veto of such a resolution.

As of Wednesday afternoon, only 18 senators are either in support of the deal, or leaning towards supporting it. Forty-nine Republican senators are either opposed to the deal or are leaning against it, according to a whip list kept by The Hill.

By The Hill