June 22, 2015, THE HILL – By Jordain Carney – Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wants to reduce the State Department’s budget for every 30 days that a report on Iran’s handling of human rights is delayed.
Cruz, who is running for president, and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) have introduced legislation that would withhold 5 percent of the State Department’s operating budget for every 30 days that an annual human rights report, which includes Iran, is delayed.
The report is required to be released by Feb. 25.
Cruz said having the report is “critical” before Congress votes on a long-term deal on Iran’s nuclear program. Negotiators are currently facing an end-of-the-month deadline to lock down an agreement.
The administration has argued that Iran’s handling of human rights, while a concern, should be separate from the ongoing nuclear talks, though some Senate Republicans have rejected that argument.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the State Department, said the delayed release “has nothing to do with the Iran negotiations.”
“That is a completely false notion, absolutely no truth to it at all. We recognize that the report is late by several months. We’re working very hard on that,” he told reporters last week. “And I expect that you will see that report released in the very near future.”
The legislation follows a letter sent to Secretary of State John Kerry by Cruz and Kirk, as well as Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is running for president, Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) last month asking about the report.
Cruz’s legislation wouldn’t impact the State Department’s funding for worldwide security protections.