Reviewing the Iran nuclear weapons deal is point Democrats and Republicans seem to agree on. With an overwhelming vote of 98 to 1 on Thursday, May 7, 2015, the Senate voted to approve a bill to review the pending Iran nuclear weapons deal. A framework already was reached and final deal will be reached by the June 30, 2015 deadline. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives where it is also expected to pass.
The Iran review bill has one Republican who opposes it, because it does not go far enough. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) opposes the bill because he would rather that it would a treaty. Cotton heralded the letter signed by 47 Senators to Iran expressing their opposition to the framework of the deal. Cotton responded after the review bill passed, "A nuclear-arms agreement with any adversary-especially the terror-sponsoring, Islamist Iranian regime-should be submitted as a treaty and obtain a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate as required by the Constitution."
All the senators that are declared presidential candidates supported the review bill both Republicans Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Rand Paul, R-Ky., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Democrat Bernie Sanders, D-Vt. Rubio supported the bill even though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to vote on cloture, end the debate and not allow any amendments on the bill. Both Rubio and Cotton wanted any review bill to specify that in any deal that Iran recognize Israel. Obama opposed the idea when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli government requested that addition to the deal. McConnell knew that amendment would ensure a veto so did the rest of the Senate since they vote 93 to 6 invoking cloture.
The bill requires that after a deal is reached that Congress has a total of 52 days to review it, 30 for Congress to initially review it, and during that time sanctions cannot be lifted. The bill allows Congress to approve or disapprove the bill, that however, does not mean President Barack Obama is will throw away any deal reached just because the deal does not have Congressional approval. President has the option vetoing Congressional disapproval and is allotted 12 days to do so, and then Congress has 10 days to ensure they have two-thirds support to override the veto.
The review period is only 52 days, should Congress receive the deal to review before July 9, afterwards he review period is moves up 60 days, the original date Congress wanted for the review. The bill also makes sure that there are repercussions should Iran not comply with the deal. The White House has to "certify compliance" every 90-days and sanctions would be imposed if in 10-days there are violations.
Despite all the limitations in the review bill White House spokesman Eric Schultz still indicated that Obama will sign the review bill, stating, "The president said he would sign it in its current form. The president also made clear if amendments were added to that bill that would endanger a deal coming together that prevented Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon that we would oppose it."
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) however, believes it put the "power back" to Congress and gives them "an appropriate role." The Obama administration allowed he bill passage because it means Congress will not object and interfere with the continued negotiations.
The Iran deal review bill moves on to the House next for a vote. Speaker of the House John Boehner supports the review bill primarily because it "hold[s] President Obama's administration accountable." the Senate Boehner expressed, "This important, bipartisan legislation will ensure that Congress has a role in reviewing any potential agreement regarding Iran's nuclear weapons program. I applaud the Senate for passing this bill, and thank Sen. Bob Corker and others for their hard work. I look forward to House passage of this bill to hold President Obama's administration accountable."
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian & Israeli politics, with a particular focus on the Obama presidency, Congress, domestic policy, and elections.