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 CorkerPress: How 'Nervous Nancy' trumped Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment Jeff Daniels blasts 'cowardice' of Senate Republicans against Trump MORE (R-Tenn.) and ranking Democrat Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinProposed bipartisan kidney legislation takes on kidney disease epidemic in America Lawmakers raise security concerns about China building NYC subway cars House votes to boost retirement savings 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) MenendezSenate to vote on blocking Trump's Saudi arms deal as soon as this week There is a severe physician shortage and it will only worsen Democrats ask Fed to probe Trump's Deutsche Bank ties MORE (N.J.), Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Hispanic civil rights icon endorses Harris for president California AG Becerra included in Bloomberg 50 list MORE (Calif.), Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDemocratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — Trump issues order to bring transparency to health care prices | Fight over billions in ObamaCare payments heads to Supreme Court Senate set to bypass Iran fight amid growing tensions MORE (Va.), Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsDemocrats want White House hopefuls to cool it on Biden attacks Senators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission Senate Dem to reintroduce bill with new name after 'My Little Pony' confusion MORE (Del.) Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenDemocrats want White House hopefuls to cool it on Biden attacks Key endorsements: A who's who in early states Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill after Mnuchin announces delay MORE (N.H.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallSenate set to bypass Iran fight amid growing tensions EXCLUSIVE: Trump: I do not need congressional approval to strike Iran Overnight Defense: Trump says he doesn't need Congress to approve Iran strikes in interview with The Hill | New sanctions hit Iran's supreme leader | Schumer seeks to delay defense bill amid Iran tensions | Esper's first day as acting Pentagon chief MORE (N.M.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOvernight Defense: Officials brief Congress after Iran shoots down drone | Lawmakers fear 'grave situation' | Trump warns Iran | Senate votes to block Saudi arms sales | Bombshell confession at Navy SEAL's murder trial Senate votes to block Trump's Saudi arms sale Trump faces skepticism about Iran war authority from both parties MORE (Conn.) and Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySenate set to bypass Iran fight amid growing tensions Young activists press for change in 2020 election Hillicon Valley: House panel advances election security bill | GOP senator targets YouTube with bill on child exploitation | Hicks told Congress Trump camp felt 'relief' after release of Clinton docs | Commerce blacklists five Chinese tech groups 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 BarrassoTrump proposal nixes review of long-term climate impacts Bipartisan senators propose forcing EPA to set drinking water standard for 'forever chemicals' Trump hails D-Day veterans in Normandy: 'You are the pride of our nation' 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 JohnsonGOP senators divided over approach to election security Democrats make U-turn on calling border a 'manufactured crisis' GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers 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 McConnellEXCLUSIVE: Trump on reparations: 'I don't see it happening' Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — Trump issues order to bring transparency to health care prices | Fight over billions in ObamaCare payments heads to Supreme Court Hillicon Valley: Senate bill would force companies to disclose value of user data | Waters to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency | GOP divided on election security bills | US tracking Russian, Iranian social media campaigns MORE (R-Ky.). Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats give Trump trade chief high marks GOP senators divided over approach to election security GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks 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.