Senate amends Iran nuclear agreement oversight bill with passage in mind

The White House says it will block legislation that interferes with negotiations between Iran, the US and other world powers over Iran's nuclear program.

The full moon rises behind the US Capitol Dome in Washington  (photo credit: REUTERS)
The full moon rises behind the US Capitol Dome in Washington
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – US Senate leadership is carefully choosing amendments to a bill that would grant Congress oversight powers over a comprehensive nuclear accord with Tehran.
Authors of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 are rejecting amendments strongly opposed by the Obama administration, in an effort to maintain broad bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for its passage.
The legislation, which currently has the support of more than two-thirds of lawmakers, would require the president to submit a deal promptly to Congress and in its entirety.
The legislature would then have mere weeks to review the deal, and then may choose to vote to approve or disapprove of its participation in the lifting of sanctions.
More broadly, the bill provides Congress with an oversight structure as the deal is implemented, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), the bill’s author, argues.
He has proposed an amendment in recent days that would require the administration to submit both the English and Iranian-drafted Farsi versions of the agreement, which ostensibly will cap, restrict, monitor and partially roll back Tehran’s nuclear program for a finite period.
After a political framework was announced in Lausanne on April 2, the White House and Iran’s Foreign Ministry released contradictory fact sheets on its contents. Corker seeks to avoid similar confusion with a final agreement, he says.
But on Tuesday, the Senate rejected an effort to require the agreement with Iran to be considered a treaty, which would have forced it to be approved by two-thirds of the Senate’s 100 members before it could take effect.
Currently, the provision that allows for a vote of disapproval also allows the chamber to forgo a vote. But the US Constitution requires the consent of Congress for the ratification of treaties.
The Obama administration opposes calling the emerging deal a treaty, and instead calls it a multilateral agreement or, more formally, a comprehensive joint plan of action.
The Senate voted 57-39 to reject the treaty clause, which would have required the support of 60 senators to pass.
Nevertheless, its support from 39 Republicans showed that there could be intense debate in the coming days as the Senate agrees on a final version of the legislation.

Reuters contributed to this report.