As the Senate prepares to take up legislation that would let Congress reject a nuclear agreement with Iran, Speaker John A. Boehner reaffirmed Tuesday he's waiting for that bill with open arms.
"Congress absolutely should have the opportunity to review this deal," Boehner said Tuesday. "We shouldn't count on the administration, who appears to want a deal at any cost." Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., has been leading the charge to give Congress the ability to review an Iranian nuclear agreement before it's finalized. While the votes appear to be there for passage, Corker has been working to line up a veto-proof majority.
Despite objections from President Barack Obama, who appears content to leave Congress out of negotiations, Corker has been trying to find a way to assuage Democratic concerns while still giving Congress the power to approve or deny a deal.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is working to keep Congress at bay while they negotiate the agreement with Iran and the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany (the so-called P5+1).
Secretary of State John Kerry briefed members Monday night on the negotiations and asked for space to work out a deal that would waive Iranian sanctions in exchange for a number of concessions on the Islamic republic's nuclear programs.
But when Boehner was asked Tuesday if he would give that space to the administration, or whether he wanted to act in the intervening months before a deal is finalized, he made it clear that he's ready to act as soon as the Senate does.
"I think that Sen. Corker apparently has some kind of agreement this morning that has some new language," Boehner said of reports of a breakthrough ahead of Tuesday afternoon's committee markup of the legislation. Boehner said he hadn't seen the specifics of the newest Corker language, but added that he was hopeful the Senate would move the legislation in the next couple of weeks.
"And, frankly, I would expect the House to take that bill up," he said.
The Ohio Republican also wouldn't rule out additional congressional steps to stop or even stymie a deal — "at this point I wouldn't rule out anything else" — but he made it clear the Corker bill had taken "center stage."
For all the chatter of a deal, much of the specifics still need to be worked out. Negotiators agreed to a framework recently that effectively kept the talks alive. But there are still plenty of pitfalls for a potential deal — inside and outside of Congress.
"From everything I've heard about the so-called framework, all it is is really an agreement to keep talking," Boehner said Tuesday. "I haven't seen anything concrete come out of this yet. But I've got concerns, and I've voiced those concerns, and I'll continue to voice those concerns."
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