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House Dems jump to support new Iran bill

House Dems jump to support new Iran bill
© Greg Nash

House Democratic leaders are quickly jumping aboard legislation empowering Congress to review an emerging nuclear deal with Iran.

House Minority Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHoyer lays out ambitious Democratic agenda for 2021, with health care at top Top Democrats introduce resolution calling for mask mandate, testing program in Senate Trump orders aides to halt talks on COVID-19 relief MORE (D-Md.) endorsed the Senate bill on Tuesday, shortly after it passed unanimously through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

And House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Trump should accept election results 'like a man' The spectre of pension failures haunts this election Microsoft: Iranian hacking group targeting attendees of major international security conferences MORE (D-Calif.), who had rejected an earlier version of the Senate proposal, said she'll also back the measure.

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“They certainly produced a bill that would be more palatable to our members,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “Most of us don't think that any legislation is necessary or should be there, [but] from what I've seen so far, it's pretty innocuous.”

Hoyer said he'll also support the Senate compromise.  

“I believe that Congress has a responsibility to review any final agreement with Iran, and this bill will achieve that goal — setting up a carefully-constructed review period to ensure that a deal meets expectations and prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” he said in a statement.

Pelosi had come out in staunch opposition to an initial version of the Senate bill, sponsored by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). Echoing President Obama, she'd warned that the legislation could undermine the talks over Iran's nuclear program as negotiators face a June 30 deadline for finalizing a deal.

The new Senate bill, a compromise hashed out between Corker and Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, shortens the timeline of Congress's review of the deal, from 60 to 30 days, and empowers Congress with a vote of approval.

Obama had threatened to veto the initial Corker bill, but White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday that the president would sign the Corker-Cardin compromise.

“Despite the things about it that we don’t like, enough substantial changes have been made," Earnest said.

The support from Obama and House Democrats could pave the way for quick passage of the measure; lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have demanded a greater voice in the high-stakes nuclear talks, and GOP leaders in both chambers are eyeing quick floor consideration.

In a Dear Colleague sent to Democrats Tuesday evening, Pelosi suggested the unity of House Democrats in opposition to the initial Senate bill forced the compromise by showing Republicans they couldn't override Obama's promised veto. She urged her troops to support the new bill.

"Because of objections raised, a Cardin compromise of Corker has come forth, which the White House has said the president will sign," she wrote.
 
"While the original Corker legislation was harmful to the negotiations, the Cardin compromise of Corker can be supported."

— This story was updated at 7:56 p.m.