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Iran Bill Sponsors Face Down Amendments

Any nuclear deal with Iran needs to be approved by the Senate, Corker said. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Any nuclear deal with Iran needs to be approved by the Senate, Corker said. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As senators look to start processing amendments to the bipartisan bill ensuring congressional review of an Iran nuclear deal, the bill’s level of support has reached a magic number of sorts.  

As of Tuesday, 66 senators have joined with Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., in backing the legislation, which got out of the committee with unanimous support. Leaders in both parties said they looked to get the floor debate on amendments underway.  

Corker and his ranking member, Maryland Democratic Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, have been encouraging their colleagues to bring amendments forward to the floor.  

While the White House had already indicated a willingness on the part of President Barack Obama to sign the revised legislation, the support for the underlying measure could be a promising sign for getting through a potential amendment minefield.  

“I would hope that we have a way of going forward on this. This legislation is critically important to our country and to the world, and we need to do everything we can to preserve it in the way it came out of that committee, 19 to nothing,” Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said.  

Appearing with the other members of the Senate Republican leadership, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, highlighted his amendment to the bill that would require presidential certifications that the Iranian regime isn’t engaging in support for terrorism.  

“It was actually something that was in the original bipartisan agreement that came out, the bill that Sen. Corker initially sponsored, which was then amended right before the final vote in the Foreign Relations Committee. They had taken out the part that had to do with terrorism, and Iran is a sponsor of terror,” Barrasso said. “I mean, let’s face it: Iran wants the money, they want sanction relief so they get all this money, and my big concern is they’re going to use the money to support additional against Americans, terror around the world.”  

But, Cardin said not long before that he viewed Barrasso’s proposal as a poison pill.  

“The president cannot make that certification, so if it became law, there’s no negotiations for an Iranian nuclear agreement,” Cardin said. “We lose our international support, and therefore it becomes much more likely that Iran becomes a nuclear weapons state. That to me is not what we want to be doing. It’s not Sen. Barrasso’s intent, but that’s the consequences of that.”  

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