WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to pass a bill giving Congress the right to review, and potentially reject, an international nuclear agreement with Iran.
The 98-1 vote sent the measure to the House of Representatives, which is expected to consider it as soon as next week. The White House has said President Barack Obama would sign it into law if it also clears the House, as expected.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner issued a statement supporting the bill shortly after the Senate vote.
Passage in the Senate came after months of intense discussion of how Congress could best have a voice in the ongoing negotiations between the United States and five other world powers with Iran over its nuclear program.
It was complicated by a dispute between Republicans and Democrats over a Republican invitation for Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, a critic of the nuclear talks, to address Congress, and the indictment of one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez.
Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, the only member of the Senate who voted against the bill’s passage on Thursday, angered the White House by writing a letter to Iran’s leaders in March saying that any nuclear deal would last only as long as Obama remained in office.
During two weeks of debate in the Senate, the bill was threatened by a dispute between Republicans over amendments seeking to toughen the bill.
The bill’s supporters said that many of the roughly 67 proposed amendments, all filed by Republicans, would have killed the measure by alienating Democrats or prompting Obama to veto it. For example, a few Republicans including 2016 presidential hopeful Marco Rubio tried to include a requirement that any nuclear deal include Iran’s recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a state.
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