Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke on the House floor in support of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.

Below is Chairman Royce’s floor statement as prepared for delivery:

I rise in strong support of this legislation to ensure that Congress is positioned to effectively and decisively judge and constrain President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, should a bad deal be struck.

I commend Chairman Corker and Ranking Member Cardin for their solid work.  This bill received near unanimous support in the other body.  And I appreciate, as always, Ranking Member Engel’s cooperation in bringing this to the floor.  With today’s vote, this legislation will go to the President for his signature.

The Foreign Affairs Committee has held a series of hearings on the Administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran, a radical, state sponsor of terrorism which is creating turmoil in a strategically vital region.  It is fair to say that there are deep, bipartisan concerns about where these negotiations are heading.  I fear that the agreement that is coming will be too short, sanctions relief will be too rapid, inspectors will be too restricted, and Iran’s missile program will be plain ignored.

Of course, we all hope that Iran’s march toward a nuclear weapon can be diplomatically stopped.  This legislation should strengthen the Administration’s hand at the negotiating table; but Secretary Kerry must put its added leverage to use – immediately, so that the U.S. can gain much needed ground in the negotiations over the next two months.

Mr. Speaker – much of the pressure that brought the Islamic Republic of Iran to the negotiating table was put in place by Congress over the objections of the White House – both Republican and Democrat presidents.  This is unfortunate.  We’d have more pressure on Iran today if the Obama Administration hadn’t pressured the Senate to sit on the Royce-Engel sanctions bill the Foreign Affairs Committee produced and the House passed in 2013 by a vote of 400-20.

And let’s be clear, the Administration has come around to support the legislation we are debating today, but with no enthusiasm.   Having followed these negotiations since they began in November 2013, I can tell you that the President would like nothing more than to have no such bill, to have Congress sit on the sideline and watch him negotiate an agreement – whether good or bad – and I fear bad.

Today, without this legislation in place, what is Congress’ position if the President reaches a deal with Iran?  Currently, there is no limitation on the President’s use of waivers to suspend the sanctions Congress put in place; no requirement that Congress receive full details of any agreement with Iran; no review period for Congress to examine and weigh in on an agreement; no requirement that the President certify that Iran is complying; and no way for Congress to rapidly re-impose sanctions should Iran cheat.  Today, the President can sign a bad deal and we – the United States Congress – are left to read about it in the paper.

But with the passage of this bill – all that changes.  Sanctions relief is frozen until Congress receives the agreement and then holds a referendum on its merits.

Again, I believe that this gives the Administration a better chance to get to a lasting and meaningful agreement.  Consider the outstanding and critical issue of verification.

The ink wasn’t even dry on the “framework” announcement – and the chants of “Death to America” led by the Supreme Leader were still fresh – when he asserted that Tehran wouldn’t allow international inspectors access to its military facilities.  The Deputy Head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps seconded that, “They will not even be permitted to inspect the most normal military site in their dreams.”

When it comes to negotiating this inspections regime over the next two months, U.S. negotiators must know that these critical issues will determine Congress’ assessment of any final deal.  Once this legislation is signed, when Secretary Kerry sits across from the Iranians, he’ll now have on his mind – ‘I’ve got to take this to Congress.’

Mr. Speaker, that prospect can only improve these negotiations.  I just hope it’s not too late, and that we aren’t too deep into a bad deal.

As we have heard today, Iran’s rush to a nuclear weapon is a mortal threat to the U.S. and our allies.  Its support of terrorism and destabilization in the region will be far more intense if it possesses a nuclear weapon.  The stakes couldn’t be higher.

I hope that all Members support this legislation.  While it might not be the perfect bill, it is a very good one.  It’s an important and responsible response to an Administration that otherwise would shut-out Congress.

I’m just sorry it took the White House so long to embrace it.  Just weeks ago, the White House was issuing veto threats and pushing back hard.  Were it to pass, it would be the end of diplomacy as we know it, Congress was told.

But with this legislation in place, Congress will be in a much better position to judge any final agreement that President Obama strikes with Iran.  And I believe that our diplomacy will have a better shot because of it.  Instead of Iranian negotiators knowing that they can wear-down the Administration ; this now injects Congress as an important back-stop.

U.S. diplomats should now head to the negotiating table with a stronger hand, work for a credible deal, a verifiable deal, and then present it to Congress to be judged.  That’s only appropriate given the incredible consequences for the region, our allies and for the national security of the United States.

I urge the passage of this legislation and yield back the balance of my time.