National security must remain a top priority
Congress has no greater responsibility under Article One of the Constitution than to provide for the defense of our great country. The first duty of our federal government is to guarantee the safety of Americans both at home and abroad. Unfortunately, I believe that Congress failed to live up to this responsibility last month when it was unable to stop the President’s implementation of the Iran Nuclear Agreement.
In a bipartisan vote, the House defeated the Iran Nuclear Agreement. I was among the Representatives who voted against this agreement, and I was extremely disappointed the Senate voted to filibuster debate on this issue. The Administration was ultimately able to implement this dangerous, unpopular agreement. It is essential that the American people and their Representatives in Congress thoroughly debate every issue, particularly grave issues of national security, and the American people and their representatives in both houses of Congress should have had the opportunity to meaningfully participate in this vital debate.
Iranian leaders clearly remain focused on expanding their nuclear capabilities and are only willing to do the bare minimum to reduce the stringent international economic sanctions that have crippled their economy. The fact of the matter is that the sanctions imposed on Iran were working. I remain committed to working with my colleagues to enhance the necessary sanctions against the Iranian regime and to do everything within our power to prevent Iran from building or acquiring a nuclear bomb.
Last week, in another bipartisan vote, the House passed the Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act. This bill would prohibit waiving, suspending, or limiting any sanctions currently in place against Iran until it pays the court-ordered damages it owes to terror victims — something the Obama Administration has glossed over in their effort to make a deal with Iran.
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act gives American victims of state-sponsored terrorism the ability to sue and collect damages from the states responsible. Despite Iran’s standing as the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, it has yet to pay one penny of these court-ordered damages. I think we can all agree that at the bare minimum, Iran should not reap any benefits until it pays its victims what they are owed. We live in a dangerous world, but this Administration is far too trusting in those who want to do us harm, seek power through aggression toward our allies, and further destabilize places in turmoil. Look no further than the Iranian regime’s continued hostility toward the U.S. and
Israel or the air strikes Russia launched this week in Syria, which they claimed were targeted at ISIS, but were actually hitting Syrians that oppose the dictatorial Assad regime, including Syrians trained by the U.S. to combat ISIS. It is unrealistic to expect that power-hungry leaders that have dubious track records will be honest brokers in high-stakes negotiations that implicate the safety of both our country and our allies.
Issues of national security are too important to leave to idealism and wishful thinking. We must remain vigilant and resolute to ensure that our top priority is that our nation and allies are kept safe. I will continue to oppose a nuclear Iran and advocate for a foreign policy that promotes peace through strength.
Robert Hurt represents Lunenburg County in the U.S. House of Representatives. His website is hurt.house.gov. He can be reached at his Farmville office at (434) 395-0120.