WASHINGTON — A top Republican senator warned Monday that the White House faces a "violent backlash" in Congress if it takes a nuclear deal with Iran to the United Nations before Congress.
The U.S. and its partners are trying to reach a framework agreement by the end of the month and a final deal by the end of June that would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. In exchange, Tehran seeks relief from economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations, the European Union, the U.S. executive branch as well as Congress.
At the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said that if there is a framework agreement reached by the end of the month, the Senate will vote in April on legislation requiring congressional review of any deal. He predicted the measure will pass in April with enough votes to override President Barack Obama's veto threat.
The Obama administration doesn't want Congress to take any action until the negotiation is over. Administration officials say that because the U.S. is negotiating with five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, it expects the council will pass a resolution to register its support for any deal.
"That would be met with a violent response in the Congress," Graham said. "I don't think that's good for the country — to take a deal that could affect world order to an international body before you take it to your own people."
Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the bipartisan bill to give Congress a vote on any agreement reached. The bill would require the president to submit the text of any agreement to Congress and would prohibit the administration from waiving any of the congressional sanctions for 60 days. During that time, lawmakers could hold hearings and approve, disagree or take no action on the deal.
Corker, who introduced the measure with Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Tim Kaine of Virginia and Graham, already wrote to Obama warning him not to try an end-run around Congress by getting the U.N. to implement any deal.
In a letter, Corker told Obama that letting the U.N. consider such an agreement — while at the same time threatening to veto legislation that would allow Congress to vote on it — would be a "direct affront" to the American people and would undermine the role of Congress.
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