Both parties fought Sunday over congressional involvement in the Iran nuclear agreement, as President Obama attempted to assure critics that the U.S. won’t accept a bad deal. The debate intensified as the United States and five other world powers are set to resume negotiations next week with Iran to stop the country from pursuing and achieving a nuclear weapon. The goal of Secretary of State John Kerry and the other negotiators is to agree on the framework of a deal before April toward a final agreement by June 30.
On SBS’ Sunday Morning, Obama said that the U.S. would “walk away” from nuclear talks with Iran if there’s no acceptable deal and that any agreement must allow Western powers to verify that Tehran isn’t going to obtain an atomic weapon.
“If we don’t have that kind of deal, then we’re not going to take it,” he said.
Obama also said the U.S. and others still would have “enough time to take action,” if Iran “cheated.”
But Iran says their program is peaceful and exists only to produce energy for civilian use. Republicans want to vote on a final deal before it’s accepted, with Senate leaders trying to figure out whether they can pass legislation on the issue with enough votes to override a presidential veto.
“The Iranian parliament will get to say yes or no on this deal,” Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told “Fox News Sunday.” “I think the United States Congress should have that exact same input into the process.”
Johnson said a bill cosponsored by Illinois GOP Sen. Mark Kirk and New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez addresses that issue and that the Senate is scheduled to begin working on the legislation in the coming days.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democratic on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told “Fox News Sunday” that he will reserve action until the administration announces on March 24 whether the negotiations were successful. And he argued that the Kirk-Menendez bill deals only with congressional sanctions that have already been imposed on Iran.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insists that Congress has a chance to review and vote on any deal. But he acknowledged Sunday that he doesn’t have the support yet to override a threatened veto by Obama.
“I’m hoping we can get 67 senators to assert the historic role of the Senate and the Congress in looking at matters of this magnitude,” the Kentucky Republican told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “Obviously, the president doesn’t want us involved in this. But he’s going to need us if he’s going to lift any of the existing sanctions. And so I think he cannot work around Congress forever.”