The House of Representatives is scheduled this week to hold its first hearings on Iran since 2020.
The Biden administration has come under fire on the right for its Tehran policy—from seeking to re-enter the 2015 nuclear deal to loosening the Trump-era “maximum pressure” campaign. Rob Malley, the point person on the negotiations to re-enter the deal or have a new deal with Iran, has been on leave since his security clearance came under review for reasons publicly unknown.
Subcommittees of the House Oversight Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee are set to host this week’s two hearings, which have similar titles. No Biden administration officials are scheduled to testify in either hearing.
The Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs has set Sept. 13 for the first hearing, titled “A Dangerous Strategy: Examining the Biden Administration’s Failures on Iran.”
Witnesses include Richard Goldberg, who worked on Iran policy at the National Security Council during the Trump administration and is now a senior adviser at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), a Washington think tank known to be hawkish on, even threatened by, the Iranian regime; Jewish Institute for National Security President and CEO Michael Makovsky; and Victoria Coates, who was Deputy National Security Adviser for Middle East and North African Affairs in the Trump administration and is currently vice president of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank in Washington.
The hearing, according to the House Oversight Committee press release, “will examine how the Biden administration has repeatedly engaged in secret negotiations with Iran, ignoring the emerging threats arising from Iran and its proxies” and “look at ways the Biden administration has fallen short in assisting Americans trapped abroad and circumstances around dismissals of high-level officials.”
“The Biden administration’s foreign policy decisions regarding Iran continue to defy logic and are actively making Americans less safe at home and abroad,” said the subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), in a statement.
“Despite promises, the Biden administration has failed to deliver transparency throughout negotiations of Iran’s nuclear arsenal program and in its murky decision to dismiss high-level U.S. envoys,” he said.
Mr. Grothman cited American hostages detained in Iran being transferred last month from prison to house arrest, reportedly as part of a deal whereby the United States would give Iran $6 billion in oil sanctions relief. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said Iran would not get such relief in any deal and that oil revenue would be allowed to go only into restricted accounts to be used for strictly humanitarian purposes.
“The Iranian regime poses a great threat to American foreign interests and stability in the Middle East region, and this hearing is a great opportunity to examine all these issues and provide Americans at home with what the Biden administration refuses to: transparency and answers,” said Mr. Grothman.
Mr. Goldberg told The Epoch Times that the hearing is part of confronting the administration’s Iran policy.
“The Biden administration is skirting a number of Iran-related laws enacted by Congress with overwhelming bipartisan majorities. Congress needs to defend its Iran sanctions architecture,” he said.
“Exposing the details of the secret nuclear deal with Iran is the first step in stopping the secret nuclear deal with Iran.”
The second hearing is set for Sept. 14. Hosted by the Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, it is titled “Iran’s Escalating Threats: Assessing U.S. Policy Toward Iran’s Malign Activities.”
Witnesses include Norman Roule, who was the national intelligence manager for Iran at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence under both Republican and Democrat presidents; Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at FDD; Iranian author and activist Masih Alinejad; and Suzanne Maloney, vice president and director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, a left-wing think tank in Washington.
Michael Rubin, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-wing think tank in Washington, where he focuses on Iran and other foreign policy topics, told The Epoch Times, “The hearings [are] both welcome and overdue—like a doctor finally prescribing an aspirin for a patient battling Stage IV cancer for a year.”
Nonetheless, Mr. Rubin called for the hearings to be conducted in a disciplined manner.
“Let’s hope it signals bipartisan efforts to develop strategy. Mudslinging about [President Barack] Obama and [President Donald] Trump and Maximum Pressure vs. Sanction relief may make good politics, but such posturing doesn’t excuse Iranian malign activities,” he said.
“Members of both parties should never forget: Iran has agency,” Mr. Rubin said. “They are embracing terror not in reaction to the West, but in pursuit of their own ideology. The only question the West should consider is how best to shut the Iranian regime down.”
Bryan Leib, former executive director of Iranian Americans for Liberty, told The Epoch Times that he welcomed the news of the “subcommittees probing President [Joe] Biden’s failed efforts of diplomacy with the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism.
“I’ve long maintained the belief that engaging in diplomacy with Tehran was never going to produce a favorable result for the American people or our allies. Diplomacy with Tehran was always destined to fail because they were never interested in actual diplomacy.”
The hearings—at least on the surface—are repetitive. The House Oversight Committee sees that as a positive.
“The fact there are multiple hearings this week on the topic of Iran demonstrates how critical and urgent this issue is to the interests and safety of Americans both at home and abroad,” a committee spokesperson told The Epoch Times. “We look forward to gaining key insights from experts testifying before the subcommittee.”
The House Foreign Affairs Committee did not respond to multiple requests for comment about the duplicative nature of the hearings.