Senate OKs bill giving Congress review of Iran nuclear deal

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from FoxNews,

The Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill Thursday that would give Congress a voice in any nuclear negotiations between President Obama, world powers and Iran.

The measure was approved 98-1, with freshman Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., as the lone holdout.

The bipartisan measure, which originally received massive pushback from the White House before a compromise was struck, gives Congress the ability to review and reject any final deal with Iran over its nuclear program.

Under the agreement framework, Iran would roll back its nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling economic penalties.

Cotton wants the administration to submit any agreement to the Senate as a treaty. Under the Constitution, that would require approval of two-thirds of the Senate.

The House is expected to vote next week on the measure.

Even if Congress rejects his final nuclear deal with Tehran, however, Obama could use his executive pen to offer a hefty portion of sanctions relief on his own. He could take unilateral actions that — when coupled with European and U.N. sanctions relief — would allow a deal to be implemented.

The U.S. and other nations negotiating with Tehran have long suspected that Iran’s nuclear program is secretly aimed at atomic weapons capability. Tehran insists the program is entirely devoted to civilian purposes.

The talks resume next week in Vienna, with a target date of June 30 for a final agreement.

The bill would require Congress to pass a resolution of disapproval to reject the deal, an action that Obama almost certainly would veto. Congress then would have to muster votes from two-thirds of each chamber to override the veto.

In the House, about 150 Democrats — enough to sustain a veto — wrote the president to express their strong support for the nuclear negotiations with Iran.

“We urge you to stay the course,” the letter said. “We must allow our negotiating team the space and time necessary to build on the progress made in the political framework and turn it into a long-term, verifiable agreement.”

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