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Congress right to seek role in Iran nuclear deal

Representatives of European and world powers prior to

Representatives of European and world powers prior to meeting to pin down a nuclear deal with Iran, at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland on March 30, 2015. Credit: EPA

Sealing a deal to keep Iran from becoming a nuclear power has gotten more complicated now that Congress has muscled its way onto the field of play. Allowing Congress 30 days to vote on a deal before any sanctions it previously imposed on Iran can be lifted could disrupt a nuclear agreement. But that's a risk worth taking.

The stakes are high. Congress should be involved in determining if international negotiators got the best terms possible. But lawmakers should play that role responsibly. They should avoid a replay of the partisanship that led to an invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress, and sending an open letter to Iran's leaders challenging President Barack Obama's ability to sustain a deal.

There are encouraging signs the congressional review will have a more bipartisan flavor. Democrats joined Republicans in pushing for legislation that would give Congress a role in reviewing the agreement. The bill, now headed to the full Senate, was crafted in a give-and-take with Obama. And after initially resisting congressional involvement, Obama said he will sign it.

The bill would authorize Congress to vote on an eventual end to sanctions and then return to the issue later, after seeing whether Iran meets its obligations. Congress could also reject the agreement, a decision Obama could veto, which would require some Democrats to join with Republicans to override.

With a June 30 deadline for a final pact looming when negotiators go back to the table Tuesday, reaching agreement on details like the fine print on inspections won't be easy. Fortunately, there is now a chance the deal eventually reached will get a fair review by Congress.


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