Senators To Review Bill Designed To Limit Iran Nuclear Deal The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will review bill Tuesday that intends to give Congress a voice on the Iran nuclear agreement.
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Senators To Review Bill Designed To Limit Iran Nuclear Deal

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Senators To Review Bill Designed To Limit Iran Nuclear Deal

Senators To Review Bill Designed To Limit Iran Nuclear Deal

Senators To Review Bill Designed To Limit Iran Nuclear Deal

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/399414375/399414379" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will review a bill Tuesday that intends to give Congress a voice on the Iran nuclear agreement. The bill would take away the president's power to lift sanctions on Iran for 60 days after an agreement is reached, so Congress would have time to review it.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Congress wants a say about any final agreement the U.S. might reach with Iran on that country's nuclear program. But the Obama administration is worried that Capitol Hill could blow things up even before a final deal is reached. It could all come to a head tomorrow when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee drafts legislation on how to handle an agreement that, at least for now, does not require the approval of Congress. NPR's David Welna reports.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: No vote by Congress is needed on a final nuclear deal because it's an agreement, not a treaty. That riles lawmakers from both parties. They say their sanctions pushed Iran to the negotiating table, so they deserve a say over their fate. The Senate bill prevents President Obama from lifting any sanctions for 60 days once a final agreement is reached to give time for Congress to review and vote on that agreement. This past weekend in Panama, Obama indicated Congress could have some sort of say, but not if it torpedoes ongoing negotiations.

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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What I'm concerned about is making sure that we don't prejudge it or those who are opposed to any deal whatsoever try to use a procedural argument, essentially, to screw up the possibility of a deal.

WELNA: Obama now has to contend with two declared GOP presidential contenders who sit on the foreign relations panel. One of them is Florida's Marco Rubio, who formally announced his bid for the White House today. In an interview with Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep, Rubio warned a deal with Iran could advance the prospect of war.

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SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: I think this deal and the fact that Iran will retain nuclear infrastructure increases the likelihood that one of their neighbors may take action against them, whether it's Israel or the Saudis or someone else. It also increases the likelihood now that Iran becomes even more aggressive in its proxy wars that it's conducting all over the world.

WELNA: The other GOP presidential contender voting on committee's bill is Kentucky's Rand Paul. He's taking a more moderate stance. Here's Paul yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press" talking about the preliminary nuclear agreement reached with Iran earlier this month.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MEET THE PRESS")

SENATOR RAND PAUL: I think that there are good things in it. So I'm not one of the Republicans who will say, oh, because the president's a Democrat, I'm never going to say he can do anything good. I believe in negotiations. I want to have negotiations.

WELNA: Then you should back off. That's essentially what Secretary of State John Kerry said to Congress on the same program.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MEET THE PRESS")

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: What we're looking for is not to have Congress interfere with our ability inappropriately by stepping on the prerogatives of the executive department of the president and putting in place conditions and terms that are going to get in the way of...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I understand.

KERRY: ...Implementation of a plan.

WELNA: Today, White House press secretary Josh Earnest repeated earlier warnings that the president will use his veto pen if the terms of the Senate bill are not altered.

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JOSH EARNEST: We would continue to strongly oppose that legislation and veto it because it essentially includes a provision that would make the deal impossible to implement.

WELNA: That provision could be a deal-breaker for Iran. It says that unless the president certifies to Congress every three months that Iran has neither supported nor carried out an act of terrorism against the U.S. or one of its citizens anywhere in the world, Congress can vote to reinstate any sanctions. Bob Menendez is a New Jersey Democrat who's co-sponsoring the bill. Yesterday, he told Fox News he might be open to modifying that provision.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SENATOR BOB MENENDEZ: This is not about, as some would suggest, jamming the administration. This is about having a responsible congressional role. If there is a better way to have that certification than the way it's written, I'm certainly open to considering it.

WELNA: And it may need to change because that bill has to have bipartisan support to overcome a presidential veto. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Kerry and other top cabinet members are on Capitol Hill today and tomorrow, pleading with lawmakers not to thwart a final deal with Iran. David Welna, NPR News, Washington.

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