Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Senate OKs Bill Giving Congress Review of Iran Nuclear Deal (Copy)

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Senate OKs Bill Giving Congress Review of Iran Nuclear Deal (Copy)

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * The Senate muscled its way into President Barack Obama's talks to curb Iran's nuclear program, overwhelmingly backing legislation Thursday that would let Congress review and possibly reject any final deal with Tehran.

The vote was 98-1 for the bipartisan bill that would give Congress a say on what could be a historic accord that the United States and five other nations are trying to finalize with Iran. Under the agreement, Iran would roll back its nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling economic penalties.

The lone "no" vote came from Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who wants the administration to submit any agreement to the Senate as a treaty. Under the Constitution, that would require approval of two- thirds of the Senate.

The House is expected to vote next week on the measure.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement moments after the vote that the "goal is to stop a bad agreement that could pave the way to a nuclear-armed Iran, set off a regional nuclear arms race, and strengthen and legitimize the government of Iran."

All four of the St. Louis-area senators voted to approve the Iran bill: Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Mark Kirk, R-Ill.; Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; and Roy Blunt, R-Mo. Kirk, a critic of the Iranian nuclear talks, praised the bipartisan call for congressional oversight.

Blunt had attempted to amend the bill to require Iran release four Americans held in Iran, including Christian minister Saeed Abedini; Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian; former FBI official Robert Levinson; and ex-Marine Amir Hekmati.

But Obama threatened to veto the bill if that amendment was attached, and it did not come to a vote. Blunt said he'll continue to push for release of the four being tied to nuclear negotiations, adding: "It is outrageous that after two years of negotiations, Iranian officials continue to hold four American citizens as prisoners without any real cause."

Even if Congress rejects the final nuclear deal with Tehran, however, Obama could use his executive pen to offer a hefty portion of sanctions relief on his own. …

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