5:30 pm EDT - 7:45 pm EDT

Past Event

How should Congress vote on the Iran nuclear deal?

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

5:30 pm - 7:45 pm EDT

Brookings Institution
Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC


On Tuesday, September 8, U.S. Senator John McCain joined three top policy experts to go head-to-head in our next Brookings debate over the highly contentious Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran.

Arguing “vote approve” were Suzanne Maloney and Bruce Riedel. Arguing “vote disapprove” were John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Leon Wieseltier. We invited the audience to vote before and after the debate to determine whether the arguments heard have influenced the opinions of those watching.

5:30 PM – Cocktail reception
6:15 PM – Debate kickoff


After a standoff of more than an dozen years and months of intense negotiations, the P5+1 group of nations—the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany— along with the European Union, announced a historic deal with Iran to limit Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. Legislation passed by the Congress and signed by President Obama this spring authorizes American lawmakers to submit the deal to an up-or-down vote. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has said “Congress should reject this deal and send it back to the president.” Meanwhile, President Obama continues to press his case and has said that he will veto any legislation that “prevents the successful implementation of this deal.”

Here are some of the key questions members of Congress are currently debating:

  • Does the deal put Israel at risk?
  • What are the wider regional implications for the deal?
  • Is there reasonable chance at securing a better deal in the future, and what damage will rejecting the current deal do to future negotiations?
  • If the president vetoes a congressional rejection, will a two-thirds supermajority in both chambers emerge to override his veto?
  • Are the deal’s provisions for verification and inspections robust enough to prevent Iran from a covert pursuit of nuclear weapons?
  • Will sanctions relief provided Iran under the deal amplify Tehran’s support for terrorist groups and destabilizing policies in Syria and elsewhere in the region?

Join the conversation on Twitter at #BrookingsDebate.