Corker optimistic Iran bill will pass next week

Corker optimistic Iran bill will pass next week
© Greg Nash
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerBannon: McConnell 'picking up his game' because of our 'insurgent movement' State Dept. spokeswoman acknowledges 'morale issue' The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Tenn.) voiced optimism Tuesday on passage of a bill next week to give Congress the ability to weigh in on a nuclear deal with Iran. 
 
"I hope we're going to have a successful markup next week, if people stay in the positions that they've been ... I don't see any indication that that's not the case," he told reporters. 
 
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Corker said he is planning to schedule a vote on the bill in the committee either Wednesday or Thursday -- days after a self-imposed March 24 deadline for international negotiators to reach a framework agreement with Iran to roll back its nuclear program. 
 
Democratic supporters of the bill, including ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), promised the White House they would withhold their support until after March 24. 
 
There are 19 members on the committee — 10 Republicans and 9 Democrats. A majority vote would pass the bill out of committee, and Republicans are likely to be joined by at least four Democrats who have expressed support for the bill. 
 
The White House opposes any legislation passed before June 30 and earlier this week reissued a veto threat on the Corker-Menendez bill, which would delay the deal's implementation for 60 days to allow Congress to approve it.
 
Republicans believe they can override a presidential veto with 67 votes. 
 
Corker said he did not want to predict whether the bill, co-authored with Menendez, will receive a veto-proof majority, but said, "We've got a lot of support." 
 
"The bill is crafted in such a way to be judicious and to cause the Senate and House to appropriately weigh in on a very important issue. It's not crafted in any way as a ‘gotcha' bill," he said. 
 
Corker said a recent White House letter warning that his legislation could derail the negotiations "validated" concerns that the administration does not want any congressional involvement. 
 
Corker said the bill is not seeking to interfere with sanctions put into place by the United Nations Security Council or the executive branch, and that it focuses "purely on the congressional sanctions that we put in place."
 
Corker said last week's drama — over a letter to Iran signed by 47 Republican senators that warned the regime any deal might not last beyond the Obama administration — would not affect support for the bill. 
 
"We've had a little bit of a pause. … I think, again, people understand that it's an honest attempt to cause Congress to appropriately weigh in, it was crafted in a bipartisan way, with a lot of consultation on both sides of the aisle, and hopefully it's something that will stand the test of time," he said.