Rep. Steve Israel and Rep. Lee Zeldin.

Rep. Steve Israel and Rep. Lee Zeldin. Credit: AP

WASHINGTON -- Top Republicans in Congress said they intend to oppose the Iran nuclear deal that President Barack Obama announced Tuesday. Democrats said they were skeptical but would closely review the agreement before deciding whether to support it.

As the deal moves to Congress for debate, the pact by the six countries, led by the United States, with Iran to limit Tehran's nuclear weapons development in return for easing economic sanctions faces tough scrutiny and partisan politics.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Obama failed to meet his own goals and called it a "bad deal that is wrong for our national security." But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) commended Obama and called it a "historic nuclear agreement."

Republican hawks on Iran decried the accord. "I would like a diplomatic solution to Iran's ambitions, but this is not a solution. This is pouring gas on a fire," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

A partisan division also emerged among lawmakers representing Long Island: Republican Reps. Peter King of Seaford and Lee Zeldin of Shirley denounced the deal, but Democrats, including both New York senators and three House members, said they'll study the details to decide what to do.

Under a law passed in May, Obama has five days to submit the agreement to Congress. Lawmakers then have 60 days to review it and hold hearings to consider legislation to bar Obama from lifting sanctions on Iran that Congress enacted.

After that, Congress can vote to support or disapprove of the agreement with a 60-vote threshold. But Obama said he would veto any legislation to leave the sanctions in place.

The law then gives the deal's opponents 12 days to override the veto with 67 votes, out of 100, in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated Congress will reject the deal, saying he expects Obama then will "be working hard to get 34 votes" to sustain his veto.

Republicans said the deal squandered the impact of Iran sanctions.

"The president just negotiated away our sanctions that made for critical leverage to deal with so many other completely unacceptable acts that must not be tolerated," said Zeldin, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

King said, "I see nothing gained from this deal. . . . It institutionalizes Iran's nuclear program, and in the meantime Iran gets tens of billions of dollars to spread terrorism" from lifted sanctions.

Most Democrats held off on judging the agreement for now.

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) said she'd consult with her constituents, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she'd carefully weigh it.

Obama will need support from Democratic supporters of Israel -- which opposes the deal -- such as Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington).

"In the fall, there will be a vote on this deal, and my obligation is to review every word, sentence and paragraph of the deal to ensure it satisfies my continued concerns," said Israel, who described himself so far as "skeptical" about the pact.

Schumer said: "Supporting or opposing this agreement is not a decision to be made lightly, and I plan to carefully study the agreement before making an informed decision," he said.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) said on CNN: "The deal is about stopping Iran from having a nuclear weapon, so that's what I want to make sure that's what this deal does."

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