Senate Dems offer alternative Iran bill

Senate Dems offer alternative Iran bill
© Greg Nash

Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerFirst senator formally endorses Bass in LA mayoral bid Bass receives endorsement from EMILY's List Bass gets mayoral endorsement from former California senator MORE (D-Calif.), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a bill Wednesday that would require the White House to regularly update Congress on Iran's compliance with any nuclear deal.

The bill would set up an expedited process for Congress to reinstate sanctions and impose other penalties if Iran violates any agreement.

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It is cosponsored by Democratic Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenate Democrats call for diversity among new Federal Reserve Bank presidents Waters hopes there's no attempt to make deep cuts to housing proposal America can end poverty among its elderly citizens MORE (Ohio), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperDemocrats say they're committed to reducing emissions in Biden plan Is the Biden administration afraid of trade? Congress sends 30-day highway funding patch to Biden after infrastructure stalls MORE (Del.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel Feinstein Ban on new offshore drilling must stay in the Build Back Better Act Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Jane Fonda to push for end to offshore oil drilling in California MORE (Calif.), Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenFranken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour Al Franken on another Senate run: 'I'm keeping my options open' Andrew Cuomo and the death of shame MORE (Minn.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichDemocrats say they're committed to reducing emissions in Biden plan GOP lawmakers introduce measure in support of Columbus Day Overnight Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Schneider Electric — Deadly Ida floodwaters grip southeast US MORE (N.M.), and Brian Schatz (Hawaii).

The bill comes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday that he would fast-track a different Iran bill for a vote on the Senate floor next week -- in advance of a March 24 deadline for negotiators to reach a framework agreement with Iran.

McConnell's move faced objections from Democratic co-sponsors of the bill who want to wait until the deadline for talks. A vote next week on that bill, which would delay implementation of any deal for 60 days to give Congress a chance to weigh in, would put Democrats in a tough position.

The White House has already threatened to veto that bill, which was introduced by Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  MORE (R-Tenn.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezWhy is Trump undermining his administration's historic China policies? Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Democrats weigh changes to drug pricing measure to win over moderates MORE (D-N.J.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

On Wednesday, that bill's five Democratic and one Independent co-sponsors sent a letter to McConnell saying they would withhold their support until after March 24 to give the administration space to reach a deal. Four additional Democratic senators also signed the letter. 

The White House has opposed any legislation that could derail talks before a deal is finalized by June 30.

Boxer's bill, though, could provide cover for Democrats who vote against the Corker-Menendez bill, or a tougher bill by Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission  Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls MORE (R-Ill.) and Menendez -- by offering an alternative measure allowing congressional oversight of a final deal.

"I am proud of this bill because it will ensure that if there is a nuclear deal and if Iran violates it, there will be immediate action to reinstate sanctions and consider even tougher penalties against Iran," Boxer said in a statement. 

Boxer's bill would require the president to report to Congress at least once every 90 days on a deal, along with a certification by the president in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence on Iran's compliance. 

It would set up an expedited process for Congress to vote on legislation to reinstate any sanctions and prohibit transferring any assets to Iran if a violation occurs. 

The bill would also "reaffirm" the role of Congress in permanently lifting any sanctions on Iran. 

"Congress has given the administration the space it needs to negotiate a deal to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. But if a deal is struck, Congress will exercise its oversight role to ensure Iranian compliance," said Schatz. 

Feinstein said the bill would "not undermine ongoing diplomacy." It would ensure "appropriate oversight of any nuclear agreement with Iran and sends a signal that we stand ready to swiftly re-impose sanctions if Iran violates an agreement," she said. 

"This bill would ensure that once a deal has been struck, Congress and the administration will be able to hold Iran to its commitments," Carper added.