Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) during the fourth day of the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Graham chairs, on October 15, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Bill O'Leary-Pool/Getty Images)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) during the fourth day of the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Graham chairs, on October 15, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Bill O'Leary-Pool/Getty Images)

Cruz and Graham Working to Block Biden From Rejoining Paris Climate and Iran Nuclear Deals

The president-elect has vowed to return to both international agreements, which were finalized during the Obama administration.

Jessica Corbett

In an early example of the opposition and obstruction that President-elect Joe Biden is expected to face from right-wingers in Congress, Sens. Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham are already hard at work attempting to ensure that he cannot deliver on his campaign promises to return the United States to the Paris climate accord and Iran nuclear deal.

President Donald Trump made a big deal of ditching both international agreements that were finalized under the Obama administration, for which Biden served as vice president. Trump left the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the Iran deal is officially known, in May 2018, ignoring concerns that doing so could increase the chances of war—and despite the climate emergency, the U.S. formally exited Paris just after Election Day last month.

RealClear Politics revealed Tuesday the Cruz (R-Texas), who has acted as an ally to Trump during his presidency after intensely criticizing him ahead of the 2016 presidential election, is pushing the outgoing president and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to submit both deals to the Republican-majority Senate as treaties, with the expectation that the ratification votes would fail.

In a letter dated December 21, obtained by RealClear Politics and tweeted in full by a Washington Examiner reporter, Cruz argued that the agreements are treaties requiring approval from two-thirds of the Senate, and praised Trump for leaving them.

"Your administration has rightly changed course as a matter of substantive policy by withdrawing from both the Iran deal and the Paris agreement. This was a great accomplishment for the American people," Cruz wrote.

"I urge you now also to remedy the harm done to the balance of powers by submitting the Iran deal and the Paris agreement to the Senate as treaties," added Cruz, a constitutional lawyer. "Only by so doing will the Senate be able to satisfy its constitutional role to provide advice and consent in the event any future administration attempts to revive these dangerous deals."

Cruz pointed out that in 2015, when asked by a congressman why the Paris agreement wasn't considered a treaty, then-Secretary of State John Kerry—who will serve as Biden's climate envoy—said:

Well congressman, I spent quite a few years trying to get a lot of treaties through the United States Senate, and it has become physically impossible. That's why. Because you can't pass a treaty anymore. It has become impossible to schedule, to pass, and I sat there leading the charge on the Disabilities Treaty which fell to basically ideology and politics. So I think that is the reason why.

Graham (R-S.C.), another Trump-critic-turned-loyalist, similarly took aim at both agreements in a series of tweets last week, sharing that he is "working hard to secure a vote in the U.S. Senate regarding any potential decision to reenter the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA)."

"Rejoining this agreement would be the most destructive decision a Biden administration could make regarding stability in the Middle East," Graham claimed. "The Senate should go on the record about whether it would support or oppose this decision. Also believe Senate should be on record in support or opposition to any decision to reenter Paris climate accord. As currently drafted, the accord is a big win for China and India."

"These two nations are enormous CO2 emitters and, under the accord, go virtually unchallenged," the senator said. "Climate change is a worldwide problem, not just an American problem."

The Republican senators' early efforts to block Biden's agenda follow a virtual global summit marking the fifth anniversary of the Paris accord, during which United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned that "if we don't change course, we may be headed for a catastrophic temperature rise of more than 3 degrees this century," and asked: "Can anybody still deny that we are facing a dramatic emergency?"

Advocates of ambitious climate action are urging Biden to not only reenter the Paris accord—which activists and scientists have long said is not nearly bold enough to address the human-caused global crisis—but also commit the United States to its "fair share" of emissions cuts and climate finance, given its disproportionate contributions to creating the current emergency.

As for the nuclear deal, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani—whose country has been devastated by the economic sanctions of Trump's "maximum pressure campaign"—said last week that Iran would return to the JCPOA without even an hour of delay if Biden makes good on his promise to do so. Speaking at a televised news conference in Tehran, Rouhani said, "I believe that the era of the economic war has come to an end."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

Abortion Rights Defenders Applaud Judge's Block on Utah 'Trigger Ban'

"Today is a win, but it is only the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult fight," said one pro-choice advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


Scores Feared Dead and Wounded as Russian Missiles Hit Ukraine Shopping Center

"People just burned alive," said Ukraine's interior minister, while the head of the Poltava region stated that "it is too early to talk about the final number of the killed."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biodiversity Risks Could Persist for Decades After Global Temperature Peak

One study co-author said the findings "should act as a wake-up call that delaying emissions cuts will mean a temperature overshoot that comes at an astronomical cost to nature and humans that unproven negative emission technologies cannot simply reverse."

Jessica Corbett ·


Amnesty Report Demands Biden Take Action to End Death Penalty

"The world is waiting for the USA to do what almost 100 countries have achieved during this past half-century—total abolition of the death penalty," said the group.

Julia Conley ·


Pointing to 'Recently Obtained Evidence,' Jan. 6 Panel Calls Surprise Tuesday Hearing

The announcement came less than a week after the House panel delayed new hearings until next month, citing a "deluge" of fresh evidence.

Common Dreams staff ·

Common Dreams Logo