Graham says GOP has veto-proof majority on Iran

Graham says GOP has veto-proof majority on Iran
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham throws support behind Trump's Turkey sanctions Hillicon Valley: Warren takes on Facebook over political ads | Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservatives | Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill Fury over Trump Syria decision grows MORE (R-S.C.) says there will be a veto-proof majority in Congress for a bill that would allow lawmakers to weigh in on any final Iran nuclear deal. 

"There will be strong bipartisan support for this, over 67 votes," Graham said Sunday on Fox News' "America's News HQs." 

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The White House issued over the weekend a veto threat for the bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezRand Paul calls for probe of Democrats over Ukraine letter Senators ask Treasury to probe Brazilian meatpacker with major US footprint Top Foreign Relations Democrat calls on Pompeo to recuse himself from Ukraine matters MORE (D-N.J.) that would suspend the implementation of a bill for two months and allow Congress time to review and vote on the final deal. 

The bill was introduced on Friday, and co-sponsored by six Republicans and five Democrats and one independent.

Since Republicans need 13 Democrats or independents to reach a veto-proof majority for Iran legislation, the bill would only need seven more non-Republican votes. It is not yet clear who those votes would be, but some could presumably come from those who support a more stringent Iran bill.  

That bill was introduced by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Menendez last month -- the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015 -- which has already garnered a veto-proof majority of 14 Democrats. Under that bill, previously-lifted and new sanctions would kick in beginning July 7 if no final deal is reached by June 30. Those sanctions could be waived for 30-day periods at a time, if a deal is near.

Corker and Menendez's bill -- which does not include sanctions -- was offered as an alternative aimed at garnering more bipartisan support if a framework agreement is reached by March 24.

Congress is getting uneasy as the March deadline approaches, and lawmakers worry that negotiators will agree to a deal to roll back Iran's nuclear program that concedes too much to the Middle East nation. The details of the deal won't be disclosed until after one is reached.

"I think it's impossible for members of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party to tell their constituents, 'I trust Barack Obama so much I don't need to look at the deal myself,'" Graham said. 

The White House could suspend sanctions as part of a deal, but would need Congress to permanently lift them. The Corker-Menendez bill is aimed that allowing Congress to vote on the deal and preventing the suspension of any sanctions for at least 60 days. 

"Having Congress as a backstop to a bad deal is absolutely essential, and I believe Democrats will agree with me in this regard that when the deal is done, if there is one, all we're saying is, 'Let us look at it, and let us vote as to whether or not we agree it's good enough to lift the sanctions that we created.'" 

Graham called a vote on an Iran deal "the most important decision that we will make in my political lifetime." 

He said a nuclear-armed Iran would start an arms raced in the Middle East, and leave Israel vulnerable to "nuclear-armed ayatollahs" who see Israel is their enemy. 

"We cannot screw this up," he said. 

-- This story was updated at 10:14 p.m.