Iran bill passes committee unanimously

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The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation that would allow members of Congress to vote on a final nuclear deal with Iran.

The compromise legislation, which was negotiated by committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerPressure rising on GOP after Trump–DOJ fight’s latest turn Corker turns downs Trump's offer to be ambassador to Australia Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE (R-Tenn.) and ranking Democrat Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinKim Jong Un surprises with savvy power plays Overnight Energy: EPA moves to roll back chemical plant safety rule | NASA chief says humans contribute to climate change | Pruitt gets outside lawyer House lawmakers to unveil water resources bill on Friday MORE (Md.), passed the committee in a 19-0 vote.

The overwhelming bipartisan endorsement came after the White House said President Obama would be “willing” to sign the bill, so long as it would not intrude on the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

“I think this puts Congress in its rightful role,” Corker said, while Cardin hailed the bill as a “thoughtful and a meaningful way to weigh in.”

The White House has pressured Democrats to withhold support for the legislation until changes were made. Corker and Cardin worked to craft a broad package of amendments prior to the hearing to make the bill more palatable to the White House.

“The president would be willing to sign the proposed compromise that is working its way through the committee today,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at a briefing Tuesday afternoon.
 
Corker said he believed the White House backed down after realizing the “number of senators were going to support this legislation.” 

Cardin disagreed and said the changes made to the bill make clear that “this is not a vote on the merits of the agreement.”

“This is a process vote because Congress has imposed sanctions, and we have a right to review it,” he said.

In addition to Cardin, the Democrats on the panel supporting the bill were Sens. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezThe Hill's Morning Report: Can Trump close the deal with North Korea? Senate must save itself by confirming Mike Pompeo Poll: Menendez has 17-point lead over GOP challenger MORE (N.J.), Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerThe ‘bang for the buck’ theory fueling Trump’s infrastructure plan Kamala Harris endorses Gavin Newsom for California governor Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response MORE (Calif.), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDefense bill moves forward with lawmakers thinking about McCain Kim Jong Un surprises with savvy power plays Singer Jason Mraz: Too much political 'combat' in Washington MORE (Va.), Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsCongress, Trump eye new agency to invest in projects overseas On World Press Freedom Day, elected officials must commit to keeping press freedom nonpartisan Overnight Defense: Pompeo clears Senate panel, on track for confirmation | Retired officers oppose Haspel for CIA director | Iran, Syria on agenda for Macron visit MORE (Del.) Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenJudd Gregg: 'Medicare for all' means rationing for everyone The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by CVS Health - A pivotal day for House Republicans on immigration Overnight Defense: Senate confirms Haspel as CIA chief | Trump offers Kim 'protections' if he gives up nukes | Dem amendments target Trump military parade MORE (N.H.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallDems expand 2018 message to ‘draining the swamp’ Overnight Energy: Pruitt taps man behind 'lock her up' chant for EPA office | Watchdog to review EPA email policies | Three Republicans join climate caucus Pruitt hires outside attorney as investigations mount: report MORE (N.M.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDem senator: I support 'real' Second Amendment, not 'imaginary' one Frustrated Trump wants action on border wall, immigration Michigan Dem: Detroit-style pizza 'sweeping the nation' MORE (Conn.) and Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers Twitter CEO meets with lawmakers to talk net neutrality, privacy Senate votes to save net neutrality rules MORE (Mass.).

The bill, dubbed the Iran Nuclear Amendment Review Act of 2015, would require the president to submit the final Iran agreement to Congress.

If the White House submits the deal by July 9, Congress would then have up to 52 days to review the agreement, during which time the president would be prohibited from waiving congressionally imposed sanctions on Iran.

After an initial review period of 30 days, 12 more days would be added if Congress passes a bill to disapprove the deal with 60 votes and sends it to the president. If the president vetoes the bill, there would be an additional 10 days added to allow Congress an opportunity to override the veto.

If Congress votes to disapprove the deal, the president could not waive some sanctions on Iran.

The bill also requires the president to make a series of detailed reports to Congress on a range of issues, including Iran’s nuclear program, its ballistic missiles work and its support for terrorism.

The legislation is a modified version of what was earlier introduced by Corker and Menendez. That bill had called for 60 days of review and for the White House to certify that Iran no longer supports terrorist organizations.

Menendez said the compromise "rises to the high quality of the what the United States Senate is all about."

"Let's send a message to Tehran that sanctions relief is not a given and not a prize for signing on the dotted line," Menendez said.

The committee had filed 52 amendments, but only one of them was brought up during the markup session for votes.

Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoWatchdog to probe EPA email preservation Overnight Energy: EPA moves to roll back chemical plant safety rule | NASA chief says humans contribute to climate change | Pruitt gets outside lawyer House lawmakers to unveil water resources bill on Friday MORE (R-Wyo.) proposed an amendment that would add back in the provision requiring the White House to certify Iran did not sponsor terrorism. The amendment failed 13-6.

There was some grumbling by Republicans on the committee, including Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Continued efforts to pass 'right to try' legislation should fail GOP, Dem lawmakers come together for McCain documentary MORE (R-Wis.), who wanted to include an amendment that would call for a two-thirds vote approving of the deal in order for it to be enacted. Still, Johnson said, "I would rather have a role than no role."

The bill now awaits scheduling for a floor vote by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenators near deal on sexual harassment policy change Blankenship third-party bid worries Senate GOP Overnight Finance: Trump signs repeal of auto-loan policy | Justices uphold contracts that bar employee class-action suits | US, China trade war 'on hold' MORE (R-Ky.). Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynPressure rising on GOP after Trump–DOJ fight’s latest turn Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA This week: House GOP regroups after farm bill failure MORE (R-Texas) told The Hill Tuesday before the markup that a vote could come as early as next week.

The bill’s strong support on the panel could serve as a bellwether for Democratic support on the Senate floor, where at least 13 Democratic votes are needed to reach a veto-proof majority of 67 votes.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Monday that he would take up Corker-Menendez if it passes the upper chamber.  

“If he is able to get his agreement out of the Senate, it is my intention to bring it to the floor of the House and move it,” he said.

— This story was last updated at 5 p.m.