By Jesse Byrnes
President Obama on Saturday threatened to veto a bipartisan bill that would allow Congress to weigh in on any nuclear deal the administration reached with Iran.
"The President has been clear that now is not the time for Congress to pass additional legislation on Iran," National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement to The Hill.
"If this bill is sent to the President, he will veto it. We are in the final weeks of an international negotiation. We should give our negotiators the best chance of success, rather than complicating their efforts," she added.
The threat comes after a handful of lawmakers introduced a measure requiring Obama to submit text of an agreement with Iran to Congress. It would also prohibit the White House from lifting Iranian sanctions for two months while Congress debated the deal.
“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," Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), one of the bill's cosponsors, said in a statement.
Corker introduced the measure along with Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the committee ranking member; Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.); and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) on Friday.
It arrives just weeks before the administration is set to come to terms on a framework over Iran's nuclear program. Members of both parties have expressed concerns that the administration would concede too much to Iran ahead of the March 24 deadline.
In a statement, Corker called the veto threat "disappointing."
"Congress put these sanctions in place and helped bring Iran to the table with the administration working against the effort the whole way. As a result, Congress should decide whether a final nuclear deal with Iran is appropriate enough to have the congressionally mandated sanctions removed," Corker said.
Negotiations over Iran's nuclear program are likely to dominate discussion in Washington in the coming week, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint session of Congress to rally against a potentially unsatisfactory deal. Administration officials have pushed back, urging others not to judge the deal prematurely.
Pressure on the administration has intensified ahead of the speech, as Netanyahu and U.S. officials spar over the realities of the deal's terms. The administration's lead negotiator for the deal predicted Friday that a deal with Iran would be well-received in the international community and no other options for limiting Iran's program existed.
Corker has long advocated for congressional oversight of a deal, popular among lawmakers given that the intelligence community has acknowledged Iran doesn't face any major technical hurdles for producing a nuclear weapon.
Others, such as Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Menendez, pushed for a bill to automatically apply stricter sanctions on Iran should a deal not be reached by the final June 30 deadline or if the country violated current terms, though Democrats held off supporting that measure since the White House said it would empower Iranian hardliners and delay talks.
This story was updated on March 1 at 6:09 a.m.