WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate panel on Tuesday passed a bill to give Congress right to approve or reject Iran nuclear deal. The White House signaled earlier that President Barack Obama would sign the proposed compromise giving Congress a say on an emerging deal to curb Iran's nuclear program — and a chance to undercut any agreement it doesn't like.
Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reached a compromise on the bill as Secretary of State John Kerry and other members of the Cabinet visited Capitol Hill for a second straight day to sell lawmakers on details of a possible final deal and plead for time to reach an accord with Tehran by the end of June.
International negotiators are trying to reach a deal that would prevent Iran from being able to develop nuclear weapons. In exchange, Tehran would get relief from economic sanctions that are crippling its economy.
Obama, who wants a deal with Iran to burnish his foreign policy legacy, has been in a standoff for months with lawmakers who not only believe that Congress should have an opportunity to weigh in, but remain skeptical that Iran will honor any agreement.
The compromise bill that the committee is to vote on Tuesday would shorten from 60 to 30 days the amount of time Congress would have to review any final deal. During that time, Obama would be able to lift sanctions imposed through presidential action, but would be blocked from easing sanctions levied by Congress.
Twelve more days would be added to the review period if Congress passed a bill and sent it to the president. There would be additional 10 days during which the president could veto it — something he initially threatened to do.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the White House would withhold final judgment on the bill while it works its way through Congress, wary that potential changes could be made in committee that would render it unpalatable. But he said the White House could support the bill in its revised form.
''Despite the things about it that we don't like, enough substantial changes have been made that the president would be willing to sign it,'' Earnest said.
Moreover, if the deal is submitted after July 9 — a short time after the final agreement is to be reached on June 30 — the review period would revert to 60 days. Under the compromise bill, the president would be required to certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran is complying with terms of any final agreement.
Meantime, there was evidence that GOP senators were backing off their anti-Iran amendments.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who announced his candidacy for president on Monday, had proposed an amendment that would require Iran's leaders to accept Israel's right to exist. Rubio said his amendment probably could pass in the committee, but ultimately ''could imperil the entire arrangement.''
Earlier, Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had said he hoped the compromise bill would be approved overwhelmingly by the committee and sent quickly to the Senate.
''Hopefully, it'll move to the floor and be able to generate a veto-proof majority,'' said Corker, R-Tenn., referring to the 67 votes it would need on the Senate floor to override a presidential veto. But that was before the White House signaled that the new compromise version might be acceptable.
There is strong bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for Congress to review any deal that the U.S. and five other nations are able to negotiate with Iran. And many remain wary that any deal will eventually be reached.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said: ''The American people should have a say.''
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters, ''Congress should absolutely have the opportunity to review this deal. The administration appears to want a deal at any cost.''
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said he was confident that compromises will hold, but said ''It's the Senate. ... It's not over till it's over.''
He said Democrats are expected to withdraw their support of the legislation if Republicans successfully push amendments that would pull the bill as it's written ''sharply to the right.'' He was referring to amendments proposed by Republicans to make the administration certify that Iran is not supporting terrorism and had publicly renounced its threat to destroy Israel — two hurdles that would be nearly impossible to scale.