The Nuclear Negotiations
Corker Bill Passes, But House Dems Reinforce Obama’s Hand

Senator Bob Corker’s Iran nuke deal bill overwhelmingly passed the Senate yesterday, 98-1. The bill seeks to give Congress a 30-day window during which to vet any agreement with Iran. The President would not be able to lift congressionally-mandated sanctions in that time period, and if both the House and Senate passed resolutions rejecting the bill, and then were able to overcome President Obama’s veto, the sanctions would stay in place.

Corker had spent hours on Tuesday negotiating with more hawkish members of his caucus, led by Senator Tom Cotton. “He agreed to stand down,” Corker announced on Wednesday ahead of the vote, referring to an amendment Cotton wanted to include in the bill, mandating that Iran recognize Israel’s statehood as part of the deal; Cotton ultimately was the one vote against the Bill, which he argues impinges on the Senate’s authority to approve treaties. The bill now goes to the House for a vote.

However, as Senator Corker was building a broad coalition in support of his bill, the White House was clearly not standing by idly. 150 Democratic representatives signed an open letter to the President, saying they would support any deal that hewed reasonably closely to the framework agreement with Iran announced in April. 145 of the signatories are voting members of the House, and represent enough of a coalition to make overriding President Obama’s veto difficult. As Greg Sargent reported:

“This letter reflects wide support for the agreement as outlined in the framework,” Rep. Schakowsky told me. “If there is a vote in the Congress to disapprove of the final agreement, and it is an agreement that reflects the framework, then I think we have enough votes in the Congress to sustain a veto.”

The devil will be in the details, of course: since the ‘framework’ was announced, Iranian and American accounts of what it actually means have varied, at times sharply. If the final agreement with Iran features significant deviations from the framework agreement—or from the Administration’s talking points on what that framework meant when it was released—then expect defections. Whether there will be enough to overcome a veto when, or indeed if, a deal is reached, is yet to be seen.

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