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Republicans on Iran Bill: Obama 'Blinked' After Veto Override Threat

By    |   Tuesday, 14 Apr 2015 09:17 PM

Republican members of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee cheered the unanimous approval of legislation giving Congress the right to reject any nuclear agreement with Iran — and Sen. Jeff Flake said President Barack Obama walked back his veto threat after realizing that the bill's sponsors had enough votes to override it.

"My advice to them all along was to work with us rather than deny that Congress has any role," the Arizona Republican told Wolf Blitzer on CNN. "Congress imposed the sanctions and only Congress can lift them permanently.

"So we always had a role, and I'm glad the White House recognizes that now," he said.

Blitzer then asked, "So, you think the White House blinked?"

"Yes, certainly," Flake responded.

Flake was among the 19 committee members who backed a compromise bill worked out between its top two members, GOP Chairman Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin.

The vote was a sign that Congress would not back down on its insistence that lawmakers must have a say if any final deal with Tehran involves the eventual lifting of crippling economic sanctions that Congress levied in 1995.

The bill is now likely to clear both houses in the Republican-controlled Congress. Obama said he would sign it.

The president had threatened to veto the original legislation, but reversed his decision as news of the compromise leaked out — and Corker's earlier remarks that he had enough votes to override any objection.

Obama, however, still retains the right to reject the legislation if Congress tries to scuttle an emerging deal with Iran, which has a June 30 deadline.

The earlier version of the bill would have put any plan by Obama to lift sanctions on hold for up to 60 days while Congress reviewed the deal. The compromise shortened the period to 30 days.

During that time, Obama could lift sanctions imposed through presidential action, but would be blocked from easing those levied by Congress.

"The administration ... has been fighting strongly against this," Corker said after the vote.

"I know they've relented because of what they believe will be the outcome here," he said, referring to any override. "I believe this is going to be an important role, especially the compliance pieces that come afterward."

Other GOP Foreign Affairs Committee members cited the importance of congressional review over any deal with Tehran.

"Given the different interpretations of the framework offered by the Iranians and Obama administration, it’s imperative any final deal involving the Iranian nuclear program be reviewed by Congress," said South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

"We need to ensure when the final agreement is brought forward all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed," he added. "The Iranians cannot and should not be trusted."

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner said Congress would be "safeguarding the American people.

"In order for an agreement with Iran to have international legitimacy, it first must have domestic legitimacy," he said. "The American people, through their representatives in the Congress, deserve to have a voice in a nuclear negotiation of such importance.

"It’s clear that if it were up to the president, he and he alone would negotiate this deal with the Iranian regime."

Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia proposed an amendment to compensate Americans held hostage by Iran for 444 days from 1979 to 1981, while holding Tehran accountable for other human-rights abuses.

"The Iran hostages sacrificed mightily for our country, and we owe it to them and their families to see to it that the nation of Iran compensates them for the damages perpetrated upon them," he said.

The state's freshman senator, David Perdue, said that two trips to the Middle East since joining the committee in January had convinced him "more than ever that we have a full-blown global security crisis.

"I am absolutely certain that we must not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon," he added. "Not now. Not in 10 years. Not ever."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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Republican members of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee cheered the unanimous approval of legislation giving Congress the right to reject any nuclear agreement with Iran — and Sen. Jeff Flake said President Barack Obama walked back his veto threat after realizing that...
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2015-17-14
Tuesday, 14 Apr 2015 09:17 PM
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