Yesterday the U.S. Senate approved by 98 votes to 1 a bill that would let Congress vote to disapprove any agreement the U.S. may reach with Iran regarding that country's nuclear program. Iowa's The lone vote against the bill came from Senator Tom Cotton, who spearheaded a letter 47 GOP senators sent to Iranian leaders earlier this year. He argued that any deal with Iran should be a formal treaty subject to Senate ratification.
Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst both voted for the bill, although Grassley was one of only six senators (all Republicans) to vote against ending debate before the vote on final passage. I have not seen any statement from Grassley explaining why he voted against cloture but for the final bill anyway. I'll update this post as needed.
After the jump I've enclosed a statement from Ernst as well as more details on the bill's provisions and on failed attempts by presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio to offer amendments on the Senate floor.
Jordain Carney reported for The Hill,
The Senate bill would require a completed deal to be submitted to Congress, which could then vote to approve or disapprove the nuclear deal within 30 days. Sanctions on Iran could not be lifted during this consideration. [...]
Passage of the legislation clears the way for U.S. negotiators to continue to work on a nuclear deal with Iran ahead of a June 30 deadline with little fear of interference from Congress. Negotiators reached a framework agreement in April.
Several senators wanted to file amendments, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not allow it.
Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) filed a motion to end debate after Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Cotton tried to force a vote on an amendment requiring Iran to recognize Israel's right to exist as part of a final deal.
The move was a reversal of the open amendment process Republican leadership pledged to bring to the Senate.
McConnell said Thursday that he would have preferred that amendments be added to the bill, but that it might have invited a presidential veto. [...]
Rubio slammed the decision not to allow his amendment requiring Iran to support Israel as part of a deal to come up for a vote, saying that some senators are "terrified" of voting against it.
Cruz also offered an amendment, but was unable to obtain unanimous consent for its debate on the floor. Pete Kasperowicz reported for The Blaze,
It's possible such a resolution [to disapprove the Iran deal] could pass both the House and Senate. But Cruz and others have said even if that happens, Obama could veto it, and it would take a two-thirds majority vote to override that veto. In that case, it would only take 34 senators to prevent a veto override, which means a one-third minority of the Senate would have the power to implement Obama's agreement.
Cruz has said it should be the reverse - that a clear majority of Congress should have to say it likes the deal before it can take effect. He formally offered an amendment to the legislation that would implement that change.
The overwhelming majority of Republican senators apparently did not want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good; as mentioned above, the motion to end debate passed by 93 votes to 6.
Statement released by Senator Joni Ernst:
Thursday, May 07, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) released the following statement after voting for the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act:
"Passage of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act is a critical step forward to ensure congressional review of any deal with Iran. It certifies that no congressional sanction can be lifted during the review period and safeguards congressional oversight of Iranian compliance. This enables the American people to have a voice.
"We must prevent a nuclear Iran which is a threat to our national security interests, our allies and partners in the region, and stability in the world. The bottom line is that Iran must never be allowed to develop a single nuclear weapon, and this legislation moves us one step closer to that goal."
Senator Ernst is a cosponsor of the legislation and previously spoke on the Senate floor calling for congressional approval of any final deal with Iran. Watch here.
I wonder whether Ernst realizes that the bill she voted for does not require Congress to approve a deal with Iran--it only gives Congress a chance to express disapproval in a resolution that could be vetoed.