It may be as soon as today when the Iran Bill finishes its journey through the Senate and comes to a vote. If enacted, the bill will give Congress the right to review any agreement with Iran made by John Kerry and the White House and either approve or deny the lifting of any sanctions imposed on that country by Congress. (How it was ever a question as to how sanctions imposed by Congress wouldn’t be lifted by Congress is a question for another day.) From the sound of things, Bob Corker is hopeful that things may be wrapped up this afternoon.
Despite a veto threat from President Barack Obama, there is strong bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for Congress to have a say in any deal that the U.S. and five other nations are able to negotiate to keep Iran from being able to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for easing sanctions crippling the economy of the influential nation in the Middle East.
The White House doesn’t want Congress to take any action that could upset the delicate negotiations that are supposed to wrap up with a final agreement by the end of June.
Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said a vote is likely on Tuesday, possibly on a new version still being crafted Monday night.
“There have been some tweaks,” said Corker, R-Tenn. “I’m hopeful that we’re going to be successful tomorrow.”
Corker originally introduced the bill with Bob Menendez, but it might be nice if the latter pulled his name out of mix given his rather, er… complicated personal situation these days. Even without Menendez there are plenty of other Democrats who are onboard with this or at least making noises along the lines of signing off when they see the final version. Senators Chris Coons and Ben Cardin, both Democrats, are ready to move forward. And assuming they get a completed package which is at all palatable to the GOP, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has already said he’ll bring it up in the House almost immediately.
The problem is that the President has been saying since January that he’ll veto the bill if it reaches his desk. How much support would there be in the Democrat caucus to override? It’s one thing to cast a vote which simply reaffirms the power of Congress as a coequal branch of the government, but it’s another matter entirely to ask them to essentially poke their collective finger in the eye of the titular leader of their party. This would be a major defeat for the President, particularly given how hard he’s been trying to sell the idea that Congress should lay low and let Kerry handle this. But the Republicans don’t need all that many defectors to override and they’ve been given cover by their leadership to do so. I think this is the one, rare case where they could actually do it.
Meanwhile, Obama spent part of yesterday in meetings with the leaders of prominent Jewish groups trying to keep them from attack him on yet another front. That rowboat is leaking to the point where it’s taking on a lot of water and the President’s list of allies grows thin.