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Republicans Ready U.S. House Bill Rejecting Iran Nuclear Deal

  • RFE/RL

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (Democrat-California) has said a rejection of the deal would be "a victory for Iranian hard-liners and would accelerate their ability to obtain a nuclear weapon."

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (Democrat-California) has said a rejection of the deal would be "a victory for Iranian hard-liners and would accelerate their ability to obtain a nuclear weapon."

The chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee has introduced legislation disapproving of the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers and said the House will vote on the measure next month.

The draft legislation was submitted on August 4 after Congressman Peter Roskam claimed the Republicans have enough votes to pass a bill blocking the deal in the lower chamber of the U.S. Congress.

But that support fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to overcome a likely veto by President Barack Obama.

Roskam said 218 of the House’s 434 current members have committed to voting against the treaty – all of them Republicans.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has said she expects enough Democrats will vote in favor of the nuclear deal to sustain a presidential veto.

The Republican-led Congress has until September 17 to approve or disapprove the nuclear deal. Congress will have only about two weeks to debate and vote on a resolution after returning from a monthlong August recess.

The White House is preparing for the likelihood that lawmakers will vote against the deal and is focusing its lobbying efforts on getting enough Democrats to sustain a veto. Only one chamber of Congress is needed to sustain a veto.

Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said on August 3 that the White House is confident it can sustain a veto "at least in the House."

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate’s Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on August 4 that the Senate would “in all likelihood” also consider a resolution of disapproval on the Iran nuclear agreement.

McConnell’s remarks came after three key senators from the Democratic Party announced their support for the nuclear accord with Iran that was agreed in Vienna on July 14 by the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany.

Senators Tim Kaine, who co-authored the legislation giving Congress the right to review the deal, Barbara Boxer, a senior Jewish member of the Senate, and Bill Nelson, all said they will back the deal.

Their support for the treaty means that even if the narrow Republican majority in the Senate disapproves the accord, they may not be able to muster the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto.

In a Senate speech on August 4 announcing his decision, Nelson said: "If the U.S. walks away from this multinational agreement, I believe we would find ourselves alone in the world with little credibility.”

Nelson also said there was "no other available alternative" to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability for the next 10 to 15 years.

Boxer said a rejection of the deal would be “a victory for Iranian hardliners and would accelerate their ability to obtain a nuclear weapon.”

Kaine said the deal disables Iran’s nuclear program for “many years through peaceful diplomatic means with sufficient tools for the international community to verify whether Iran is meeting its commitments.”

Obama was due later on August 4 to hold a private meeting with Jewish leaders in a bid to rally their support for the nuclear deal. On August 5, Obama will attempt to sway public opinion in an address before the American University in Washington.

Earlier in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued in a live webcast to an estimated 10,000 Jewish Americans that the deal with Iran “will trigger a nuclear arms race in the region.”

"This is not a partisan issue in Israel," Netanyahu said. "It should not be a partisan issue in the United States."

Under the accord, Iran has agreed to significantly limit its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, TheHill.com, and Haaretz
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