The White House has acknowledged that while no decision is final, President Trump is likely to decline to recertify that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which is more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. Trump is expected to publicly announce his position on the JCPOA and an overall strategy toward Iran next week; any final determination must be issued by October 15, 2017. Until then, the Trump and Trade team offers this summary of the 2015 law that would be triggered should Trump not recertify to Congress that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA.

Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (Public Law No. 114-17), the president must submit to Congress every 90 days a compliance certification indicating that (1) Iran is fully implementing the terms of the JCPOA, (2) it has not committed a material breach, (3) it has taken no actions to advance its nuclear weapons program, and (4) the suspension of sanctions remains warranted. Under this law, there are clear and detailed provisions pertaining to congressional oversight of Iranian compliance under the JCPOA should the president not submit a certification of Iran’s compliance. Subsection (e) of the law provides for expedited consideration of “qualifying legislation” introduced within 60 calendar days of the date when the president does not submit a certification stating Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA.

The term “qualifying legislation” is defined to mean only a bill that (1) is titled, “A bill reinstating statutory sanctions imposed with respect to Iran” and (2) states, after the enacting clause, “Any statutory sanctions imposed with respect to Iran pursuant to __________ that were waived, suspended, reduced, or otherwise relieved pursuant to an agreement submitted pursuant to section 135(a) of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 are hereby reinstated and any action by the United States Government to facilitate the release of funds or assets to Iran pursuant to such agreement, or provide any further waiver, suspension, reduction, or other relief pursuant to such agreement is hereby prohibited,” with the blank space filled with the law or laws under which sanctions are to be reinstated. Such qualifying legislation must be introduced in the House by either the majority leader or minority leader or in the Senate by the majority leader or minority leader (or one of their designees).

Any such legislation is to receive expedited consideration; if any committee to which the bill has been referred has not reported out the bill within 10 legislative days, that committee will no longer have oversight of the bill. Each chamber (House and Senate) has slightly different rules under the law in which to consider any bill. In the House, all points of order against any qualifying legislation are waived as are any motions against its consideration; two hours of debate are allowed; and no motions for reconsideration will be allowed. In the Senate, all points of order pertaining to any qualifying legislation are also waived; no motions to postpone or reconsider will be allowed, but certain (undefined) debatable motions and appeals can be considered; 10 hours of debate are allowed; and no motion to recommit will be allowed. If one chamber does not introduced qualifying legislation and the other chamber considers and passes such legislation, that bill once passed over to the other chamber must be considered under the expedited procedures (as previously discussed) under this law.

Stay tuned …