Congress is looking to have the final say on the historic deal reached
between Iran and the six major world powers on Tuesday, but critics may have little power to put the brakes on the agreement despite having 60 days to approve or reject the deal.
According to The New York Times
, even if the accord is voted down by one or both houses, the president would likely veto the action and have enough votes to overcome any effort to override the veto.
The president has told aides that he wants to gain a congressional endorsement given the historic nature of the accord, the culmination of 20 months of negotiations, the Times reported.
Nevertheless, he is likely to have significant difficulty in gaining congressional approval, given the skepticism that has been voiced by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
House Speaker John Boehner promised a thorough review, but said he wouldn't support "any agreement that jeopardizes the safety of the American people." Rather, Congress "will fight a bad deal that is wrong for our national security and wrong for our country."
It was clear Boehner thought the deal was "bad." He accused the Obama administration of going back on its word in the agreement reached with Iran.
"The president," the Ohio Republican said in a statement, "has abandoned his own goals. His 'deal' will hand Iran billions in sanctions relief while giving it time and space to reach a break-out threshold to produce a nuclear bomb — all without cheating. Instead of making the world less dangerous, this 'deal' will only embolden Iran — the world’s largest sponsor of terror — by helping stabilize and legitimize its regime as it spreads even more violence and instability in the region.
"Instead of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, this deal is likely to fuel a nuclear arms race around the world.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking on Fox News Sunday, also thought "it's going to be a very hard sell ... in Congress."
"At the end of the day, I think people understand that if this is a bad deal that is going to allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon, they would own this deal if they voted for it, so they'll want to disapprove it," McConnell told NBC, according to RT.com
, emphasizing that the Republican-led Congress should be able to get the 60 votes needed to disapprove the bill.
Critics are expected to focus on the agreement stopping short of shuttering Iran's most advanced nuclear facilities, with some saying it will only delay the country's ability to build a nuclear weapon.
Other provisions, such as the arms embargo, are also expected to also be contentious, according to the Times.
"Sadly, the administration just lit the fuse for a nuclear arms race in the Middle East," said Nebraska GOP Sen. Ben Sasse, according to USA Today
. "We all know Iran's neighbors will not sit idly as the world's largest state-sponsor of terror becomes a nuclear-threshold state."
Rep. Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, knocked the agreement for not requiring Tehran to dismantle bomb-making technology and allowing it to develop an industrialized nuclear program in 10 years.
"The deal they have struck is looking like a tough sell," Royce, who will convene a hearing on the deal Tuesday morning, said in a statement.
Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who will play a central role in determining congressional response to the nuclear deal, said he is deeply skeptical of the agreement.
Corker had tough words for Iran in a statement, saying it continues as the world's "lead sponsor of terrorism" and that relieving sanctions would leave it "flush with cash" and increase threats to the United States and its allies.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican, criticized the deal for not addressing "our national security needs or the needs of Israel or our allies in the region" by not requiring "Iran to dismantle its nuclear program."
Ayotte, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" program that she is also concerned because the agreement "does not allow anytime, anywhere inspections of their military facilities or areas, where they may have nuclear program materials and their enrichment programs."
Overall, she said, "we needed to require them to dismantle their program," but what appears is"we'll have more proliferation in the Middle East" because the deal allows "the legitimization of their nuclear program for weapons purposes."
Enrichment is not needed for a peaceful nuclear programs, Ayotte said, and she believes the Obama administration "conceded too much."
"There aren't any conditions ... that they should act like a country who wants to act in a peaceful way," she said. "We can't allow the largest sponsor of state terrorism to have a legitimate path to a nuclear weapon, which is what the agreement appears to do."
Rep. Michael McCaul doubted Congress will approve the agreement, despite Obama's threatened veto of any congressional recommendation.
"It's not just Republicans, it's a lot of Democrats as well," the Texas Republican, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN's "New Day" program. "I think a lot of Democrats [who] associate with the Jewish community, particularly, are concerned about what this means for Israel. I think you're probably going to see a very bipartisan resolution come out.
"The question, is do we have a two-third majority to override that? It's uncertain."
The deal, as expected, "doesn't dismantle their nuclear infrastructure, their capability," McCaul said. "They can continue to enrich uranium. They can continue to build intercontinental ballistic missiles."
And they will, he said, because based on briefings he's received, the Iranians "have in the past engaged in covert development of nuclear capabilities ... underground facilities. I'm sure they'll use their military facilities to do this and the inspectors will have no access. That's one of the biggest issues we have."
McCaul also said he is skeptical of coming to a deal with "a country that chants 'death to America,' that's going to celebrate a holiday tomorrow to call for the destruction of Israel."
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking early Tuesday, called the agreement a "bad mistake of historic proportions" and said that "Iran is going to receive a sure path to nuclear weapons," USA Today reported.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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