The US House of Representatives on Thursday passed legislation allowing Congress to review any nuclear agreement reached between the executive branch and Iran, as well as a bill to impose sanctions on any financial institution that does business with terrorist group Hezbollah.
Lawmakers easily agreed to both bills, voting 400-25 in favor of H.R. 1191, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, and passing H.R. 2297, the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act, in a 423-0 vote, with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., describing the Review Act as a way to keep pressure on Iran as nuclear negotiations continue.
“This legislation [will] ensure that Congress is positioned to effectively and decisively judge and constrain President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, should a bad deal be struck,” Royce said on the House floor Thursday. (Credit AP).
Under the terms of the review bill, first passed by the Senate on May 7 — with senators using an unrelated bill previously passed by the House as a legislative vehicle — Congress would have 30 days to review any deal reached between Iran and the administration regarding Iran’s nuclear program and then pass a resolution either approving or rejecting the deal.
The bill would also require the White House to keep Congress in the loop regarding Iran’s ongoing activities, including regular reports on the country’s support of terrorist groups, among other issues. President Barack Obama would retain veto power over any resolution that Congress reaches.
The legislation had stalled in the Senate amid opposition led by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who had previously stated his opposition to any nuclear deal being reached with Iran. Cotton was the only ‘no’ vote in the 98-1 tally in the Senate.
Cotton had held the legislation up with various proposed amendments that he had been a sponsor of, including a clause requiring Iran to recognize Israel’s right to exist — an amendment that some House lawmakers had also urged their leaders to consider before the bill was brought to the House floor.
Another proposed Cotton amendment would have required that any nuclear deal be considered a treaty, subject to the approval of two-thirds of the Senate, a stance he reiterated following the bill’s passage in the Senate.
The current proposed framework for a nuclear deal with Iran, which involves several other world powers in addition to the U.S., would see Iran heavily reduce the number of centrifuges in use at its nuclear facilities and make other changes to some of those centrifuges, limiting its ability to make weapons-grade nuclear material.
In exchange, some current U.S. and European Union sanctions on the country would be lifted, subject to continued compliance with the deal.
Under the Hezbollah Financing Prevention Act that also passed the House on Thursday, banks and other financial companies that knowingly do business with the Islamist militant and political group — officially considered by the U.S. and several other countries to be a terrorist group — its television station al-Manar TV, or any agent acting on its behalf would be subject to U.S. sanctions, among other provisions.
Although Hezbollah is based in Lebanon, Iran has been a major funding source for the group since its inception in the 1980s, with Royce describing the country as a “radical state sponsor of terrorism” on Thursday.