The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is planning to act as soon as next week on a bipartisan bill that would allow Congress to approve or reject any nuclear agreement that President Barack Obama reaches with Iran, Politico reported on Monday.
The panel’s chairman, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), said he hopes to move forward on the measure as early as March 25, one day after a rough deadline set by the White House for a deal to wind down Iran’s nuclear program.
“That is my hope, yes,” Corker said when asked if he will move forward next week, according to Politico. “I just think waiting until the 25th certainly should accommodate many of the Democrats’ … concern. I would hope to mark it up next Tuesday or Wednesday.”
The legislation, unveiled two weeks ago, would mandate that Obama submit the text of any pact with Iran 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 White House has threatened to veto the measure and, as Politico noted, in a letter released last weekend, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough warned Corker that moving on his Iran legislation would “potentially prevent any deal from succeeding.”
Corker said on Monday that he had to work out scheduling the markup of his legislation with ranking member Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who led a group of 10 Democrats in vowing not to move on the Corker legislation until March 24.
“We’re going to talk about it. We’re going to go forward at some point,” Menendez said, according to Politico. “I’m going to talk to Sen. Corker about it.”
Corker and Menendez were discussing when to move on the legislation while walking to the Senate floor Monday evening, the report said.
Senate Republicans, as well as some Democrats, have warned that they want congressional review of any nuclear deal with Iran.
Obama has made clear that he will not submit any such deal to Congress for approval. Republicans warned in a letter to Iran last week that doing so may mean that Congress or the next president will act to nullify the accord.
The letter angered Obama, who suggested Republicans were “wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran.” Even Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, criticized the letter and said it was a sign of the collapse of “political morality” in the United States.