Senate Effort Underway to Require Congressional Approval of Iran Deal

GOP senators bit back at the Obama administration's four-month extension of nuclear talks with Iran today, introducing legislation that would require congressional review of any deal and makes clear that this is the last extension before sanctions go back into effect.

It's a bill that many Democrats would vote for -- if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) allows it to come to the floor.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the top GOP on the Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the bill in a colloquy Wednesday with his co-sponsors: Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho).

Corker gave a nod to the work on sanctions pushed forward by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), though it was unclear if either would sign on to the bill.

“Congress must weigh in on any final deal, ensure Iranian compliance is strictly enforced, and provide a backstop to prevent a bad deal from occurring," Corker said. "While this bill does not include new sanctions on Iran, it allows Congress to seek further sanctions if an acceptable final deal can’t be reached.”

What it does include is the requirement that the president submit any agreement to Congress within three days of reaching a final deal. Lawmakers would have 15 days to review the deal, then have the option to introduce a joint resolution of disapproval that would have to pass the House and Senate.

If Obama failed to submit a plan to Congress or a resolution of disapproval would pass, sanctions that the administration had rolled back during the negotiation process would automatically be reimposed.

“Additionally, if Iran at any time violates the terms of its nuclear agreements, this legislation rightly obligates the Obama administration to re-impose all previous sanctions and start over," Risch said. "Given Iran’s history and bad faith on this issue, this legislation is absolutely necessary.”

Additionally, sanctions would be re-imposed on Nov. 28 -- four days after the newly extended deadline is up -- should Obama fail to submit a comprehensive agreement to Congress.

"Congress played a fundamental role in enacting sanctions against Iran and should have a say whether this agreement is strong enough to lift sanctions," Graham said. "President Obama felt he needed congressional approval to move forward in Syria and Congress should insist on being involved in any nuclear deal with Iran.”

Rubio said on the Senate floor that refusing to let Congress give the final approval to a deal "leaves us vulnerable – not just to a terrible deal –  but to a dangerous one that could potentially endanger the future of our allies and even of our own country.”

“So the Iranians in this whole negotiation view themselves as being in a position of strength. To be quite frank, they believe that our president wants this deal more than they do. They believe he wants this deal more than they do. And that's what puts them in this tremendous position of strength. And the result is that these negotiations are not going to, in my view – I hope that I'm wrong, I hope that tomorrow we open up and read, you know what? They've changed their mind. They don't want to do any more terrorism, no rockets and no nuclear weapon program and they've become just a normal government and a normal country," Rubio said.

“Don't hold your hopes out for that because that is not what they've shown in the past, that is not what they're doing now, and they are negotiating from a position of strength because they believe that the president wants a deal much more than they want or need a deal.”