Could Congress overcome a promised veto of legislation designed to compel the Obama administration to submit any nuclear deal with Iran to Capitol Hill for approval? At least one of the bill's champions seems to think so.
"To the president: I expect Congress will reject your insistence that we shut up and go in a corner and just not have a say," South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday on the Fox News Channel, adding that he thought there would be in excess of the 67 votes needed in the Senate to override a veto.
"It is not complicating the negotiations for Congress to look at the deal after the fact and decide if we want to relieve the sanctions we've created," Graham said. "The congressional sanctions passed 100 to nothing, over the objections of Hillary [Rodham] Clinton. It is the Congress whose imposed sanctions have got the Iranians to the table."
"ISIL is a secondary threat, in my view, to what could happen if the Iranians obtained a nuclear capability," Graham said. "When they say they want to destroy Israel, they mean it."
National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan has been reiterating the administration's view that Iran-related measures (expanded conditional sanctions or otherwise) shouldn't move through the legislative process as the talks continue with the P5+1 countries.
"The President has been clear that now is not the time for Congress to pass additional legislation on Iran. If this bill is sent to the President, he will veto it. We are in the final weeks of an international negotiation. We should give our negotiators the best chance of success, rather than complicating their efforts," Meehan said Monday.
Responding to the veto threat over the weekend, Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, who is leading the legislative effort, expressed his frustration with the veto threat.
"It is disappointing that the president feels he is the only one who speaks for the citizens of our country," the Tennessee Republican said in a statement. "Congress put these sanctions in place and helped bring Iran to the table with the administration working against the effort the whole way. As a result, Congress should decide whether a final nuclear deal with Iran is appropriate enough to have the congressionally mandated sanctions removed."
The legislative sparring comes ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's scheduled to address a joint meeting of Congress Tuesday morning in the House chamber, giving a policy speech focused on the threat that a nuclear-armed Iran could pose to Israel. Corker's Foreign Relations Committee is expected to move relatively quickly on the legislation after Netanyahu's address.
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