In recent weeks, the White House campaigned against the original text of the legislation, which it argued undermined the possibility of reaching a negotiated agreement with Iran.
The bill, authored by Republican Senator Bob Corker and Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, will allow Congress a 52 day review period of any agreement that the US reaches with Iran over its nuclear program.
Senator Corker emphasised the importance of the United State Congress being able to vote on the agreement, given that the current situation allows for the United Nations Security Council and the Iranian Majlis parliament to vote.
The White House initially promised to veto the legislation, but it changed position shortly before the committee vote, indicating that it would not veto the bill.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the White House would withhold final judgment on the bill while it works its way through Congress, wary that potential changes could be made in committee that would render it unacceptable. Nevertheless, he said the White House could support the bill in its current form.
Senator Menendez described the bill as “the way to send a message to Tehran about our expectations…The fact is – if the P5+1 and Iran ultimately achieve a comprehensive agreement by the June deadline – at the end of the day, Congress must have oversight responsibility, and this legislation provides it. This bill establishes a managed process for Congressional review and a framework for Congressional oversight.”
Menendez argued that due to the fact Congress had been central in approving nuclear-related sanctions against Iran it must also have a role in lifting them. He stated that “As the author of those sanctions, working with others, I can tell you that we never envisioned a wholesale waiver of those sanctions without congressional input and action.”
Israel welcomed the bill’s passing through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Intelligence Minister Yuval Seintitz called the legislation “an achievement for Israeli policy,” and credited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress earlier this year.
Speaking to Israel Radio today, Steinetz said, “It means more pressure and another hurdle in the way of a bad agreement, so the administration and negotiators will work harder to fill the gaps to reshape the deal into a better, more reasonable one that can win Congress approval.”
The bill will now head to the Senate floor, where it will most likely pass and be signed into law.