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April 14, 2015 5:30 pm

US Senate Committee Unanimously Passes Modified Iran Oversight Bill

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U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN). Photo: U.S. Senate.

JNS.orgThe U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday unanimously passed a modified version of a bill that would give Congress oversight of a final nuclear agreement between world powers and Iran.

Earlier on Tuesday, a bipartisan deal to amend the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 was reached among the leading members of the Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.). In the compromise, the bill’s initial 60-day period for Congress to review a nuclear deal was cut in half to 30 days. The review period also includes a maximum period of 12 days for the president to decide whether to accept or veto a Congressional decision on the deal.

Additionally, Corker agreed to modify the bill’s language on terrorism. The bill originally called for the president to certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran was not involved in terrorism against Americans, with sanctions being re-imposed if Iran was found complicit in terror. Under the new language, the president would need to send Congress periodic reports on Iran’s involvement in terrorism and on its ballistic missile program, but the details of those reports would not set off the renewal of sanctions that were lifted under the nuclear deal.

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While President Barack Obama previously said he would veto any Congressional oversight bill on Iran, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday that Obama would sign the newly modified version of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act if there are no additional changes.

“I want to thank Senators Cardin and Corker for their hard work—they both did an excellent job,” U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said Tuesday after the committee-level passage of the amended bill. “It’s important that this process be as bipartisan as possible, and clearly they’ve been able to do that and come to an agreement. The American-Israel relationship has always been bipartisan and I’m glad we’re continuing in that fine tradition.”

The Iran oversight bill now goes to the full Senate, where it will need three-fifths approval (60 senators if all are present) in an initial cloture vote in order to come up for an actual vote. A majority of the senators present for the vote then need to vote in favor of the bill for it to pass. Since virtually all of the 54 Republican senators are expected to back the legislation, and with nine Democrats co-sponsoring the measure, it is expected to pass smoothly in the Senate.

If that happens, the bill goes for a vote in the House of Representatives, where a majority is needed to pass it. The bill then would move to Obama’s desk. If Obama defies Earnest’s most recent comments and vetoes the bill, both the House and Senate would then require two-thirds majority votes to override the veto.

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