US & Canada

US Senate passes Iran agreement review bill

The bill was authored by Republican Senator Bob Corker Image copyright AP
Image caption The bill was authored by Republican Senator Bob Corker

The US Senate has approved a bill that would give Congress the power to review a nuclear agreement with Iran.

The legislation gives Congress 30 days to review the agreement and prevents the White House from suspending sanctions during that time.

However, a congressional no vote would not be binding and could be vetoed by President Barack Obama.

The US, along with Iran and five other nations, have set a deadline of 30 June to finalise a deal.

A framework for negotiations seeks to ease western sanctions in exchange for restrictions on Iran's nuclear programme.

The bill passed overwhelmingly in a 98-1 vote. It is expected to pass next week in the House.

Mr Obama has said he will sign the bill and is expected to do so after several amendments from Republican senators, which were blocked.

He lifted a previous veto threat after the White House said it believed the measure would not "derail the negotiations".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Negotiators met in Vienna in late April

Some Republicans have argued Iran has received too many concessions and accuse the White House of not consulting with Congress, especially if sanctions are involved.

The vote comes after weeks of negotiations between lawmakers.

"The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act offers the best chance for our constituents, through the Congress they elect, to weigh in on the White House negotiations with Iran," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

"And make no mistake, they need to have that opportunity," he said.

If Congress the rejects the final deal, Mr Obama can override the ruling with his veto, which would require a supermajority of two-thirds of both the House and Senate to overcome.

Mr Obama will still be able to lift sanctions he himself imposed through executive action but he would be unable to ease those imposed by Congress.

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