Both houses of Congress were active on Thursday over international negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program: The Senate passed legislation that give it a say on a final deal, and in the House, most Democrats signed on in support of the negotiations.
The Senate bill would give Congress the power to review a nuclear agreement with Iran and approve any deal before sanctions could be removed. The vote was 98-1. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who wanted Iran to allow inspectors access to any suspicious nuclear sites, cast the lone No vote.
Other Republicans who oppose the agreement suggested the bill didn’t go far enough for them, but they voted for it anyway.
“While far from perfect, I voted for the Corker-Cardin bill (sponsored by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Ben Cardin, D-Md.) because it is absolutely imperative that Congress has a final say in any deal the Obama Administration reaches with Iran, the same regime that has never backed away from its desire to destroy Israel and wage a proxy war against the United States around the world,” Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said in a statement.
In the House, Reps. David Price, D-N.C., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, were the authors of a letter they sent on Thursday to President Barack Obama, supporting his administration’s efforts to negotiate a nuclear agreement that would prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. It was signed by 150 House Democrats – a key number, because it represents enough support to sustain a presidential veto.
That veto would be likely if the Republican-controlled House and Senate pass legislation aimed at blocking an agreement once negotiators finish the details.
Here’s the math: A vote of two-thirds of the 435-member House (290) is needed to override a veto. With three vacancies currently, 145 members voting to support Obama on an Iran deal would be enough to prevent an override.
There are 244 Republicans and 188 Democrats now in the House.
The United States, United Kingdom, China, France, Russia and Germany (known as the P5+1) and the government of Iran announced the framework for an agreement last month.
“I strongly believe that diplomacy is our best option for ensuring that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon, which is a critical foreign policy and national security priority,” Price said in a press release. “We have made remarkable progress along with our international partners, and we must give the ongoing negotiations our full support as we near a final, verifiable nuclear agreement.”