(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
WASHINGTON -- A new Senate bill under the pen might cause additional problems for the White House as it seeks to clinch a deal with Iran over its nuclear program by the end of March.
While new legislation triggering sanctions on Iran has been put aside until at least March 24, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) is looking to introduce a bill of his own before the end of the month that would require congressional approval of any final nuclear agreement.
Sources on Capitol Hill tell The Jerusalem Post
that Corker seeks to introduce the legislation before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to a joint session of Congress on March 3. The legislation does not currently have a Democratic co-author.
Withheld sanctions legislation, formally titled the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015, was written by senators Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Mark Kirk (R-Illinois). Ten Democratic senators, including Menendez himself, said they would wait to support a vote on the bill until after March 24, granting US President Barack Obama time to negotiate a political framework agreement by that time.
Obama threatened to veto that legislation, if it reached his desk before the nuclear talks took their natural course. He has not spoken to the tenets of Corker's bill, other than to say, alongside his aides, that Congress will continue to play a crucial role in shaping Iran policy.
Corker's plan, originally proposed last year in a different form, would require the administration submit any final agreement to Congress, which would then hold hearings and, if deemed necessary, an up-or-down vote of approval or disapproval of the deal.
Whether such a resolution could be binding is a matter of debate on the Hill, given the president's prerogatives on foreign policy matters. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) sees an alternative, should a deal come to pass his caucus disapproves of: Defund its execution, and refuse to lift sanctions as prescribed.
Netanyahu says he is coming to address the legislature "because Congress might have an important role on a nuclear deal with Iran."
Obama will not host Netanyahu during the visit. The deadline for a political framework between and the US, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany is March 31.