Republican Ted Cruz keeps pressure on Iran deal in US budget debate

WASHINGTON - Republican US Senator Ted Cruz said on Tuesday that Congress should use legislation funding the government to force President Barack Obama's administration to hand over more information about the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Days after a deadline passed for Congress to vote on the nuclear pact, the 2016 presidential hopeful said any legislation to fund the government after Sept. 30 must require the administration to hand over information about "secret side deals" involving inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities.

On Sept. 17, the deadline for reviewing the agreement, Obama's fellow Democrats in the Senate for a third and last time blocked Republican legislation meant to kill the Iran nuclear deal. The vote conserved perhaps the greatest foreign policy win of his presidency.

Congress has until Sept. 30 either to pass a bill funding the government in the new fiscal year that starts the following day, or force federal agencies to shut down or curtail major operations.

Cruz has tried in the past to use must-pass spending bills, like the one coming due on Oct. 1, as vehicles to kill Obama initiatives, like his healthcare overhaul and immigration policy changes. The strategy has failed, but has forced temporary shutdowns.

Any stop-gap funding bill should use "the power of the purse to force this administration to hand over the Iranian side deals," Cruz told reporters at the US Capitol.

Cruz said it would be Obama, not him, who would force a government shutdown if the president jeopardized government-wide funding by refusing to detail the Iran side deals.

The "side deals" refer to arrangements between Iran and international nuclear inspectors that lay out a framework for inspections. The International Atomic Energy Agency insists details of such arrangements must be kept confidential.

Cruz also wants any spending bill to defund the women's healthcare provider Planned Parenthood, because it provides abortion services.