Are there teeth left in the legislation guaranteeing Congressional oversight of the Iran Deal, after compromises were struck to attain overwhelming bipartisan support? That’s the question as news begins to leak out regarding back room deals to make the legislation more palatable to Democrats and thereby ensure sufficient supporters to override President Barack Obama’s veto.
There will be a final vote on the measure this afternoon, U.S. east coast time. But early morning on Tuesday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman and a lead co-sponsor of the Iranian Nuclear Agreement Review Act, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), sounded confident that the marked-up measure would be voted out of committee by a wide margin and that it would have the necessary number of votes for the override.
Dozens of amendments were offered by Senators on both sides of the aisle, including ones intended to address the issue of Iranian funding of global terrorism and Iran’s threats to annihilate the Jewish State.
Going into the day the careful nose counters were predicting that Corker’s bill remained at least one solid vote short of the 67 necessary to override President Obama’s veto. But by early morning, Corker was jubilant.
“We have reached a bipartisan agreement that keeps the congressional review process absolutely intact, full of integrity,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
The final language will not be made available until the vote is taken at the conclusion of the SFR Committee meeting, but leaked information suggested that language which would require the President to guarantee that Iran was not supporting or carrying out acts of terrorism against Americans or the United States was amended, and that the time period allotted to Congress for review may have been shortened from the 60 days in the original bill.
“We believe the American people want Congress to understand the details on their behalf,” Corker said during a CNN interview. When asked why Congress was not giving the President’s negotiating team the time that, for example, Secretary of State John Kerry asked for to allow the team to conclude their negotiations, Corker responded that perhaps there was a misunderstanding.
“We aren’t going to be involved while they are negotiating, but when they’re finished, we want this deal presented to Congress.” Corker said it should be put before Congress prior to any lifting of Congressional sanctions being lifted. While the CNN host attempted to pushback on Congress, suggesting it was overstepping its jurisdiction, but Corker insisted that Congress’s role was essential before anything happened which affected a Congressionally-mandated sate of sanctions.
“Iran is the biggest exporter of terrorism in the world,” Corker said, “and
Corker also mentioned that he believes there is language in the latest version of the bill that “addresses concerns over whether Iran should recognize the state of Israel as part of the agreement,” according to the Politico news site. The specific language Corker claimed addressed this issue was not specified.
The other language people will be inspecting with a magnifying glass deals with with when international sanctions against Iran because of its nuclear activity will be lifted. Initial reports about the framework agreed to by the U.S. and its other P5+1 partners and Iran were flatly inconsistent on when sanctions would be lifted, with Iran claiming (and demanding) that as soon as a deal was reached sanctions had to be lifted. The Americans, in contrast, said that the parties had agreed that sanctions would only be lifted once Iran was shown to have fulfilled its obligations under the terms of the deal.
In anticipation of the committee session, Corker was working closely with the ranking Democrat on the committee, Maryland’s junior senator, Ben Cardin (D-MD).