Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), spoke before the Senate on Wednesday, in a bill he authored, the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017. The legislation, has 60 bipartisan cosponsors, and is expected to pass the Senate this week. It will expand sanctions against Iranian for ballistic missile development, support for terrorism, transfer of conventional weapons to or from Iran, and human rights violations.
Senator Corker’s speech is reproduced as follows:
I rise today to speak about the Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017, which passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month by a vote of 18 to 3.
“I’d like to thank the members of our committee and the co-authors of this bill for working in a constructive, bipartisan fashion to craft this legislation.
“I think it is a good example of how the Senate can still work together to tackle complex and difficult issues.
“I was in the SCIF recently – a place where senators go to read classified information – reviewing intelligence, and it truly is astounding what Iran continues to do around the world.
“For a people that are capable of so much, their foreign policy is shockingly counter to their own interest.
“We see destabilizing act after destabilizing act – from missile launches, to arms transfers, to terrorist training, to illicit financial activities, to targeting Navy ships and detaining American citizens – the list goes on and on.
“And it’s past time for us to take steps to protect the interests of the United States and our allies.
“This bill is the first time Congress has come together since the JCPOA – the Iran nuclear deal – to do just that.
“For far too long, the agreement – which I strongly opposed, as did our ranking member and presiding officer – has dictated U.S. policy throughout the Middle East.
“It’s worth noting that the JCPOA is not unlike the Paris climate accord.
“I don’t think many people in our country or many people in this body realize that it is a non-binding political agreement that was entered into by one man using presidential executive authority and can easily be undone by one man using presidential executive authority.
“In fact, in many ways, it is easier than the Paris accord considering the president doesn’t have to take an action to exit this agreement.
“I don’t think most Americans understand that. He doesn’t have to take action to exit the agreement. All he has to do is decline to waive sanctions. I think that has been missed.
“But no matter what the president decides, this bill makes it clear that the Congress intends to remain involved and will hold Iran accountable for their non-nuclear destabilizing activities.
“What the nuclear agreement failed to do was allow us to push back against terrorism, human rights issues, violations of U.N. security council resolutions relative to ballistic missile testing, and to push back against conventional arms purchases, which they are not supposed to be involved in.
“As many of us predicted at the time, Iran’s rogue behavior has only escalated since implementation of the agreement, and this bipartisan bill will give the administration tools for holding Tehran accountable.
“Let me say this. I don’t think there’s anybody in this chamber who doesn’t believe that the Trump administration – I know there’s been a lot of disagreements recently about foreign policy issues in the administration – but I don’t there’s anybody here that believes they are not going to do everything they can to push back against these destabilizing activities.
“And what we’ll be doing today and tomorrow with passage of this legislation is standing hand-in-hand with them as they do that.
“It also sends an important signal that the U.S. will no longer look the other way in the face of continued Iranian aggression.
“I want to recognize the important work of my colleagues in making this legislation possible.
“Senator Menendez has been a champion for holding Iran accountable, in this bill but also in decades of work on this issue. He truly is an asset to the Senate, and I thank him for his commitment to many issues, but especially this one.
“Senators Cotton, Rubio, and Cruz all played an important role in drafting this legislation as well.
“But finally, let me say this. This would not have been possible without the support and tireless effort of the ranking member, Senator Cardin, and his great staff. It has truly been a pleasure for me to work with him on the Russia bill that we will be voting on today at 2:00 p.m. but also on this legislation.
“We come from two very different places, representing two very different states, and yet are joined by the fact that we care deeply about making sure that the foreign policy of this country is in the national interest of our citizens and that we as a Congress and as a United States Senate are doing everything we can to drive positive foreign policy.
“I want to thank him for that and tell him I am really proud of the strong bipartisan momentum behind this legislation, which his leadership has helped make happen, and I look forward to passage of this bill.”