Thank the Iran Review Act for the Upcoming Debate About the Iran Deal

By Jack Goldsmith
Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 11:01 AM

So the Iran deal is done, and now we can move to debate it. It is very important to note that but for the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, President Obama could have lifted U.S. sanctions today under waivers and related provisions that Congress in the past gave him. The Iran Review Act disabled the President from lifting those sanctions for a period—60 days from when Congress receives the official documents—so that Congress can review the deal and decide to approve it, oppose it, or do nothing. It is true that Congress will have a hard time killing the deal, and that to do so it will need to find veto-proof super-majorities in both chambers. But the only reason it has a chance to do so, the only reason Congress and the nation can debate the deal before the President implements the domestic sanctions relief side of it, is the Iran Review Act.

The notion that continues to be peddled in some quarters that absent the Iran Review Act, the President could not have implemented the deal through domestic sanctions relief without first winning the support of the Senate or Congress is simply wrong. For those who continue to make this point, I ask: What would have prevented President Obama from exercising today his pre-existing authority to give Iran domestic sanctions relief had Congress not enacted the Iran Review Act? Not the Constitution, which does not require the President to seek congressional or Senate approval for this non-binding deal. And nothing in any statute either. For my more extended explanations of these points, see here and here and here.