October 17, 2021

Senators strike deal to force review of Obama-Iran nukes agreement

Senators strike deal to force review of Obama-Iran nukes agreementSenate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., center, speaks with the committee’s ranking member Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, as they arrive for a committee’s meeting to debate and vote … more >

Senators reached a bipartisan deal Tuesday to force any final Iran nuclear deal to be submitted to Congress as lawmakers took the first real steps to curb President Obama’s foreign policy negotiations.

Under the terms of the deal, which cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on a unanimous vote, the administration couldn’t lift any of the sanctions Congress has placed on Iran’s nuclear program until he presents all the details to Capitol Hill, and gives Congress a chance to have a say. If Congress doesn’t act, Mr. Obama can lift the sanctions on his own.

Lawmakers said that means they aren’t prejudging the deal, which Mr. Obama’s team is still negotiating with Iran, racing a self-imposed end-of-June deadline to flesh out the details of the framework that all sides reached earlier this month.

A chastened White House, which had earlier threatened vetoes of bills that might constrain the president, said Mr. Obama could accept the new restraints, saying they don’t believe the bill would disrupt the negotiations midstream since it only gives Congress a crack once the president’s team finishes its work.

“They’ve relented,” said Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate committee, who said the White House had seen it was going to suffer an embarrassing loss if it continued to oppose the bill.

Both supporters and skeptics of the framework Mr. Obama announced in early April said they can back the legislation, saving potential battles over support for Israel for an eventual floor fight. But it was not without worries from Republicans who said they feared Congress was ceding still more legislative authority to Mr. Obama.

Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican, said to him, the agreement being worked out with Iran looks like a treaty, and under the Constitution, treaties must garner a two-thirds vote in the Senate to be ratified, giving Capitol Hill more leverage. Instead, under the agreement senators reached, Mr. Obama retains the leverage, including a veto of any resolution of disapproval.

“It is a far cry of advice and consent of 67 senators voting in the affirmative that this is a good deal,” Mr. Johnson said.

House Speaker John A. Boehner said he expects his chamber to take up the Corker bill once it clears the Senate.

Congress absolutely should have the opportunity to review this deal,” Mr. Boehner said. “We shouldn’t just count on the administration, who appears to want a deal at any cost.”