House Leader Supports Iran-Related Legislation

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy says he supports bill that would force Obama to submit any agreement with Iran for Congress approval.

Elad Benari ,

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Monday expressed support for a bill that would force President Barack Obama to submit any nuclear agreement with Iran for Congress approval.

McCarthy said he would bring the bill to the House floor if the Senate approves it, according to The Associated Press (AP). The Senate is set to discuss the bill on Tuesday.

Republicans and Democrats maintain that Congress should have a say on an international deal with Tehran to curb its nuclear program and have lined up behind legislation.

The White House has pushed back, threatening a presidential veto while warning that the bill could scuttle the delicate talks involving the United States, Iran and five world powers.

McCarthy told reporters that he spoke with Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, earlier in the day. McCarthy said he told Corker that if the Senate approves the bill, the House will vote on it.

"It's my intention to bring it to the floor of the House and move it," McCarthy said at a news conference as Congress was returning from a two-week spring break, according to AP.

"Lines in the sands have moved back," McCarthy said, claiming the U.S. has back-tracked on some of the demands it had at the beginning of the talks.

"A lot of the questions will be why have they moved back and will Iran ever be able to have the capability of having a nuclear weapon? That's a key question," he added.

Under the bill, Obama could unilaterally lift or ease any sanctions that were imposed on Iran through presidential executive means. But the bill would prohibit him for 60 days from suspending, waiving or otherwise easing any sanctions that Congress levied on Iran. During that 60-day period, Congress could hold hearings and approve, disapprove or take no action on any final nuclear agreement with Iran.

If Congress passed a joint resolution approving a final deal — or took no action — Obama could move ahead to ease sanctions levied by Congress. But if Congress passed a joint resolution disapproving it, Obama would be blocked from providing Iran with any relief from congressional sanctions.

McCarthy’s comments came as Secretary of State John Kerry gave a closed-door briefing to lawmakers about the deal with Iran, a day after he urged lawmakers not to intervene in the negotiations with the Islamic Republic.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the briefing, Kerry claimed that there “have been a lot of representations, misrepresentations" about what's contained in the framework agreement the U.S. and its partner nations negotiated with Tehran.

A reporter suggested that many lawmakers already have made up their minds about the Iran deal and the bill that would allow Congress to weigh in on an important foreign policy issue facing the president.

"We'll wait and see. That's why we're here," Kerry replied, according to AP.

"We hope Congress will listen carefully and ask the questions that it wants to, but also give us the space and time to be able to complete a very difficult task which has high stakes for our country," said Kerry, who also plans to lobby members Tuesday.