Senate Defeats Another Amendment to Corker Bill, This One Targeting Iran’s Support for Terrorism

By Patrick Goodenough | April 30, 2015 | 4:25 AM EDT

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Iran created and is the main sponsor of the Lebanese-based Shi'ite terrorist group. (Photo: Office of the Supreme Leader)

(CNSNews.com) – The U.S. Senate on Wednesday night defeated another Republican amendment to legislation allowing Congress to review a nuclear agreement with Iran, this time a provision that would have required the president to certify that Tehran is not sponsoring terrorism against the U.S.

The amendment by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) failed by a smaller than expected margin, however – 45 votes to 54 – even though the White House had earlier identified it as one of the main triggers for a threatened presidential veto, charging that it was designed to destroy the entire nuclear deal.

The amendment would have required certification that Iran has not directly supported or carried out an act of terrorism against the U.S. or a U.S. person, anywhere in the world.

The sponsor of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), opposed Barrasso’s amendment – as he does many others submitted by GOP senators – on the grounds it would fracture painstakingly-crafted bilateral consensus.

Corker joined the Senate’s 44 Democrats and two independents in voting against the amendment, along with seven other Republicans – Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Dan Coats (Ind.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), John McCain (Ariz.) and David Perdue (Ga.)

One of those highlighting the terrorism issue was Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), who told the Senate that Iran’s support for terrorism have continued even as it has negotiated with the U.S. and five other world powers.

“As their diplomats sit at the negotiating table and smile for the cameras, their government continues to support terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, provide arms and funding to the murderous Assad regime in Syria that has murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent people,” she said.

“It has continued to destabilize Yemen. It has – imprisoning innocent Americans and developing an intercontinental ballistic missile, whose obvious purpose is to potentially deliver a nuclear weapon to the United States of America,” Ayotte added.

On Tuesday, the Senate voted down another amendment to the Corker bill, which sought to give an Iran nuclear agreement international treaty status. The proposal by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) failed by 39 votes to 57, with 12 Republicans voting against it.

Among other GOP amendments either introduced but facing objections, or filed but not yet introduced, are the following:

--Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.): Requiring Iran publicly to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

--Sen. John Thune (S.D.):  Requiring secretary of state to report how International Atomic Energy Agency will be able to inspect military bases. (Iran says military bases are off-limits.)

--Sen. James Risch (Idaho):  Prohibiting lifting of sanctions until Iran frees U.S. citizens Saeed Abedini, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, retired FBI agent Bob Levinson, and Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.

--Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.): Barring sanctions relief until Iran has carried out the specific terms of an agreement. (Iran insists that sanctions be lifted immediately the final deal is signed.)

--Sens. Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.): Requiring certification that Iran and North Korea are not cooperating on ballistic missile or nuclear weapons programs.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow