The House gave overwhelming approval Thursday to create a congressional review of the potential nuclear power deal with Iran, sending the bill to the White House for President Obama’s signature as he heads into the final weeks of negotiations with the Islamic state.
Following a similar lopsided roll call last week in the Senate, the House’s 400-to-25 vote concluded months of tense talks between congressional leaders and administration officials over what degree of oversight Congress would have if Obama finalizes a deal with Iranian leaders to assure their nuclear program shift into military use.
Obama agreed to the slightly modified version drafted by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, after three months of negotiations led a large number of Democrats to support the plan.
“In a show of bipartisanship that is often too rare today in Washington, Republicans and Democrats in both the House and the Senate now have sent a strong message that the American people – through their elected representatives – must have a voice on any final nuclear deal with Iran,” Corker said in a statement after Thursday’s House vote.
If Obama finalizes a pact with Tehran, this legislation grants Congress 30 days to review the nuclear deal. Obama could waive sanctions against Tehran that were imposed by the executive branch but must leave in place sanctions that Congress previously drafted.
If the House and the Senate disapprove of the Iran deal, including overcoming a possible presidential veto, then Obama must leave in place those congressionally mandated sanctions. Any other outcome in Congress would allow Obama to go ahead with implementing all aspects of any nuclear deal.
A bloc of House conservatives were angered when GOP leaders placed the legislation on the fast-track calendar that prohibited any amendments, leading 19 Republicans to vote against the Corker bill. Six Democrats who want Obama to have a free hand in his deal-making also opposed the bill.
Senate conservatives nearly derailed the legislation with similar efforts to amend the bill, which Corker maneuvered against because that would have lost most Democratic support and drawn a presidential veto.
In the end, those supporting Obama’s effort to reach a deal and those opposing it largely approved of some congressional review. “It is a true bipartisan compromise that will give Congress the opportunity to review and play an active role in evaluating any agreement with Iran,” Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said.