WASHINGTON (AP) — A bipartisan group of senators unveiled legislation Friday that would require a congressional review of any deal the Obama administration and other western powers strike with Iran on its nuclear program.
The measure would mandate that President Barack Obama submit the text of any pact to Congress and bar the administration from suspending congressional sanctions on Iran for 60 days. In that time, Congress would hold hearings and have a chance to approve, disapprove or take no action on the agreement.
The legislation is a fresh challenge to Obama's authority as the United States and other nations engage in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear capability. It is likely to draw a veto threat.
Leading the effort on the measure are Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the chairman and top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"There are few national security priorities for our country more important than preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and any agreement that seeks to do this must include Congress having a say on the front end," Corker said in a statement.
Menendez, a leading proponent of economic and other sanctions on Iran, said Congress will have a chance to review any agreement "and more importantly, ensure its compliance after it goes into effect. This legislation establishes that vital review and oversight process."
Joining Corker and Menendez in backing the measure were Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Tim Kaine, D-Va., John McCain, R-Ariz., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Jim Risch, R-Idaho, and Angus King, I-Maine.
Introduction of the bill comes just days before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech to Congress in which he is expected to assail the negotiations with Iran, warning that they will allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon and pose an existential threat to Israel.