Cruz forces recorded vote on State Department nominee accused of lying about new Iran nuclear deal

The forced vote is a way of getting Republicans on record about their opposition to the new deal.

Updated: March 24, 2022 - 8:05am

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Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) reportedly forced a recorded vote Wednesday morning on a Biden administration nominee who the senator alleges lied to Congress about the new Iran nuclear agreement. 

The vote on Barbara Leaf's nomination to serve as the secretary for Near Eastern affairs at the Department of State is the first recorded congressional vote related in any capacity to the administration's new Iran deal.

In an email sent by Cruz's office to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, Leaf is described as "a key player in the Biden administration hiding the details of their new Iran deal from SFRC and Congress more generally – until it was too late to shape it."

"They were working on a weaker 'less for less' agreement since the very beginning of the Biden administration, all the way back in February 2021. They now plan to announce it as a ‘take it or leave it’ bad deal," reads the Cruz email.

The recorded vote is a message about Cruz and Republicans' frustration with the current administration's efforts to keep details of the new Iran deal secret. Leaf's nomination has been blocked by the senator since last year because she refuses to answer questions about the new nuclear deal, in as well as other facets of the administration's Middle East policy.

In previously written testimony to Cruz, Leaf claimed that the administration was not negotiating a deal with Iran separate from the original Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. When asked about details of the new deal, Leaf wrote that there are no "arrangements, deals, or agreements contemplated to reduce pressure on Iran."

Cruz argues that Leaf's testimony was meant to prevent senators from understanding what was being negotiated with Iran in Vienna, where talks were being spearheaded by Russia and China. 

In recent weeks, details of those talks have emerged, and indicate that the Biden administration is prepared to lift some terrorism sanctions on not just Iran, but on Russia as well, so that it will be able to assist Tehran in building out parts of its nuclear program. 

Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has expressed trepidation about the deal, and wants assurance from the administration that Congress will get a vote on it.  

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