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May 7, 2015 4:57 pm

US Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Bill Giving Congress Oversight of Iran Deal

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The United States Senate rejected a bid to consider the Iran nuclear deal as an international treaty. The U.S. Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which would give Congress a 30-day period to review a final nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, in a 98-1 vote.

The only senator to vote against the bill was U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who objected on the grounds that the legislation does not require a final nuclear agreement to be submitted as a treaty requiring Senate approval. U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer was absent for the vote.

President Barack Obama is expected to approve the bill, which is authored by U.S. Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Robert Menendez (D.N.J.), after initially vowing to veto a version of the legislation that gave Congress twice as long—60 days—to review a nuclear deal.

As part of a bipartisan compromise with U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Corker had also agreed to modify the bill’s language on terrorism. The legislation 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.

The bill’s next step—before it reaches Obama’s desk—is a vote in the House of Representatives, where the proposal needs a simple majority to pass.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said Thursday after the bill’s Senate passage, “This important legislation provides Congress a mechanism to assert its historic foreign policy role and review any agreement to ensure it meets U.S. objectives, prevents relief of Congressionally-imposed sanctions if it disapproves of the agreement, and requires the administration to report on Iran’s compliance with a deal. AIPAC urges the House to take speedy action on Congressional review legislation and send it to the president for signature into law.”

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  • Mike Barry

    Once again the Republicans have showed themselves to be a feckless lot “led” by lightweights. Why should Imam Obama fear these clowns who fold like cheap cameras at every opportunity simply because they fear being called the dreaded “R” word! Obama is an extremely weak, lame duck President yet these fools fear him as though he were a political Hercules when he’s no such thing. Obama has always had a glass jaw. Need proof? Putin and Assad both laughed at him before one invaded Ukraine and the other used poison gas after Obama drew a “red line” in the sand that he warned him not to cross. That red line turned out to be a light shade of pink with a yellow tinge to it. Obama has always been a loser with no stomach for a fight. But even a loser can waltz to victory when the opposition is too feckless to make an honored stand.

  • terryl delaney

    Compromise, leads to compromise, leads to compromise. Making an agreement with a person or nation known for breaking them is an exercise in willful blindness. But when a nation lacks moral and spiritual courage it is quick to celebrate the lie, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. America will sell out Israel under this administration only to find that we have sold ourselves out. Iran will be just as quick and willing to use their nukes on the U.S. as they are on Israel.

  • Bruce Richardson

    The Constitution states that the President “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.”

    This agreement appears to effectively allow this agreement to be made unless two thirds of the Senate disapprove. It appears to me that only one third of the Senate plus one can make the deal because that would be enough to keep two thirds from stopping it.

    That’s not what the Constitution requires. The deal is null and void because there was never two thirds of the Senate concurring. That the deal is between Iran and U. N. Security Council is irrelevant. The United States Constitution requires two thirds of the Senate to concur for it to take effect. Arguing that it isn’t a treaty doesn’t help. If it isn’t a treaty, what in the Constitution would make it binding upon the United States?

    Do the Republicans have a death wish? Don’t they know that going along with this deal is going to cost them votes in 2016.

  • Michael Fox

    The dysfunctional political system creeks along like an old NY subway train with no light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Senator Cotton is right. The Senate — with a Republican majority — has enabled President Obama to act on the Iran deal without respect to the treaty power of the Senate, which requires two-thirds approval of senator present and voting for treaty approval. Mitch McConnell has turned the constitutional process upside down — the Iran deal goes through UNLESS two-thirds of the Senate vote against it.

    What will the McConnell say after the deal is approved and Iran tests its first nuclear weapon — that he had no alternative because otherwise the president would have shut down government?

    McConnell and Boehner are as effective vis-a-vis the president as Alexander Kerensky was against Lenin. No — they are worse: they join the left in spitting at our founding legacy.

  • ted weiss


  • timothy roberton

    No deal is better. Don’t negotiate with terrorist.

  • Obama has a history of ignoring what others tell him to do – and doing as he pleases. US congress cant control him.

  • susan

    This is so wrong — they just turned upside down their Constitutional DUTY as outlined in Article II that requires 2/3 of the Senate present to approve a Treaty before it can go into effect. Now, instead, they’ve made it that it that they need 2/3 of the Senate to change or veto it, which is nearly impossible. This is a disaster. They’ve just re-written the Constitution!

  • The President has agreed to sign this bill. Senator Cotton has shown his ignorance of this as an agrement with Iran and the United Nations Security Council. Not just the United States. The letter Senator Cotton authored and the 47 Senators signed, then sent to Iran has made Iran change some of their demands by making the negotiations much harder. They now want all sanctions stopped at once. No inspection of the military basses. There are more demands now than before the letter. You can thank Senator Cotton for that.

  • Roberta E. Dzubow

    It’s been a really hard fight to get this commonsense, logical, and co-equal branch of government’s responsibility fulfilled.

    Having the wrong man as President, with his wrong appointees and policies has harmed the U.S., Israel, and the entire world.

    U.S. policy was NO NUKES for Iran. It should stay that way.

  • Shalom-Hillel

    I don’t know what to think about this bill. There are a number of individuals and organizations who have said that it plays right into Obama’s hands. I think Sen. Cotton’s objection to the bill was very important. if this plays out badly it could end up looking like the Senate has given its stamp of approval to Obama’s Iran deal. I am not reassured that we have turned the corner on the Iran madness.

  • In principal I agree with Tom Cotton, strange as that sounds coming from a Green. However, I can live with this bill if it applies retroactively to the Executive Agreement just negotiated by the Obama Administration. Does it?

  • Jack Thomas

    It’s good to know that Congress had abrogated its responsibilities publicly. Normally, it does it behind the public’s back. Congratulations, America…and goodbye Constitution. Oh well, what’s an oligarchy like? That’s right! It’s a step behind a dictatorship.