Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker is home in Tennessee, but he said Wednesday he's been on the phone a lot about Iran — particularly with moderate Democrats.
The Republican said his role is to answer questions and foster debate, while making the case against the P 5+1 agreement to restrict the Islamic republic's nuclear program. But, with the number of Democratic caucus members backing the Iran deal at 29 and expected to increase, Corker's also looking ahead to other legislation in response.
"I do think it's going to be very difficult for Congress to keep this from happening, so this agreement likely will go into play, unfortunately," Corker told the editorial board of The Nashville Tennessean. "I think what Congress will do is come back around with some very, very strong provisions relative to Iran, but also probably some very strong provisions relative to some regional ... strategy that is very supportive of allies that we have in the region."
Corker said he will seek to ensure that the Senate's floor debate on the disapproval resolution after Labor Day is a serious exercise.
"For me, we're going to have this debate when we get back. My goal there is to have a sober, substantive debate and vote, and I think we'll achieve that," Corker said. "I realize I can read the tea leaves and understand at this moment it looks very unlikely that we'll have a veto-proof majority to disapprove, but I know we're going to have a bipartisan majority that will disapprove."
Corker said he expected even some of the moderate Democratic senators who ultimately back the Iran agreement will seek to advance new legislation to ensure enforcement.
"The next round will be, after that, will be ... to pass some piece of legislation that begins to articulate and push forth, you know, a foreign policy initiative in the Middle East, and I think many of the Democrats that, you know, end up voting for this are going to be wanting to latch themselves on to something," Corker said.