Obama, Senate Compromise Gives Congress A Say On Iran Nuclear Deal A Senate committee voted for a bill that gives Congress a review of the Iran nuclear accord. The president had threatened to veto such a bill but it was amended to address some of his objections.
NPR logo

Obama, Senate Compromise Gives Congress A Say On Iran Nuclear Deal

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/399751461/399751462" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Obama, Senate Compromise Gives Congress A Say On Iran Nuclear Deal

Obama, Senate Compromise Gives Congress A Say On Iran Nuclear Deal

Obama, Senate Compromise Gives Congress A Say On Iran Nuclear Deal

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/399751461/399751462" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A Senate committee voted for a bill that gives Congress a review of the Iran nuclear accord. The president had threatened to veto such a bill but it was amended to address some of his objections.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Congress gets a say in the Iran nuclear talks after all. A Senate committee approved a bill that would stop President Obama from fully enacting a deal over Iran's nuclear program until Congress considers it. It's a bipartisan measure approved in committee 19 to nothing. The president has resisted interference by Congress, which he said would endanger presidential power entirely aside from endangering his deal. But the White House now says the president can sign a bill the administration considers less bad after a compromise. Here's NPR's David Welna.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: This is an example of when lawmakers realize they want something badly enough, they'll do what they have to do to make it happen. On the day after announcing his bid for the presidency, Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio dropped his plans to introduce an amendment, making any nuclear agreement contingent on Iran recognizing Israel's right to exist. Rubio said he recognized such a measure could complicate passing a congressional review of a nuclear deal.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO: Ultimately, the alternative is not to do anything. And that would play right into the hands of what the administration's asking for Congress to do, which is to have no role whatsoever.

WELNA: The White House had repeatedly warned President Obama would veto the bill that Rubio had hoped to amend. It made clear certain elements in the bill were unacceptable, including a provision requiring a periodic presidential certification that Iran had not been involved in terrorist attacks against Americans. White House officials also objected to another provision, calling for a 60-day period for Congress to debate and vote on a final nuclear agreement, during which time no sanctions could be lifted. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said before yesterday's vote that he was aware efforts were being made to drop these provisions.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOSH EARNEST: And if presented with a compromise along the lines that I just laid out here, that would be the kind of compromise the president would be willing to sign.

WELNA: And a compromise is just what the president got. The terrorism certification was dropped from the Senate bill, and the 60-day review period was reduced to 30 days. Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy praised his fellow Foreign Relations Committee members yesterday for retooling their oversight bill so that it won't threaten ongoing negotiations.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: I think we've heard very clearly that the changes that have been made over the past 24 to 48 hours essentially make this legislation benign as it relates to the negotiations.

WELNA: In essence, the bill would make the lifting of any congressional sanctions on Iran contingent on lawmakers approving a nuclear deal. And if they did not, that would surely be a deal breaker for Iran. Still, some Republicans were clearly unhappy with the compromise bill. Wisconsin's Ron Johnson said Congress will be voting on little more than keeping the sanctions it's passed against Iran in place.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SENATOR RON JOHNSON: It is an incredibly limited role. It is a role with very little teeth. It is a far cry from advice and consent of 67 senators voting in the affirmative that this is a good deal for America.

WELNA: Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the committee, sympathized with Johnson's desire to convert a nuclear deal with Iran into a formal treaty.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SENATOR BOB CORKER: You know, if I could wave a wand or if pigs began to fly, we could turn this into the type of agreement that has been discussed.

WELNA: Pigs did not fly. As ranking Democrat Ben Cardin noted, Congress has had to come to terms with a longstanding reality.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SENATOR BEN CARDIN: I don't think we'll convince any administration, Democrat or Republican, that Congress should have any role in anything that they do. We understand that.

(LAUGHTER)

CARDIN: That's a given.

WELNA: And yet, with the accommodations made yesterday, Congress will likely play a role in any deal reached with Iran. David Welna, NPR News, Washington.

INSKEEP: Congress? Compromise? Wow. This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.