WASHINGTON (AP) â€” At home & abroad, the White House courted support for a landmark nuclear deal with Iran on Thursday as congressional leaders in both parties pointed toward a politically charged showdown this fall over Republican attempts to scuttle the agreement.
"It blows my mind that the administration would agree to lift the arms & missile bans & sanctions," said the Republican leader of the House, Speaker John Boehner, referring to some of the provisions in the complex accord.
He said the Republican-controlled Congress would likely shortly be on track to pass legislation denying President Barack Obama the ability to lift numerous financial & other restrictions Iran currently faces.
p>House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi became the first prominent Democrat in Congress to back the deal, saying she is "very optimistic approximately our ability to support the president."
Obama has pledged to veto any bill rejecting the agreement. Neither Pelosi nor Boehner ventured a prediction on the final outcome.
The maneuvering in Congress unfolded as Secretary of State John Kerry met with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, coming away without an immediate endorsement for the deal.
Vice President Joe Biden walks with Senate Foreign Relations Committee members Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md …
"We hope that the Iranians will use this deal in order to improve the economic situation in Iran & to improve the lot of the Iranian people & not use it for adventures in the region," the Saudi diplomat said. His country is Iran's main rival in the Middle East, & Kerry promised to respond if Tehran supports terrorism against its neighbors.
Kerry intends to brief Persian Gulf leaders early next month at a meeting in Qatar. Even before then, Defense Secretary Ash Carter leaves this weekend for the Mideast, with stops in Israel & Saudi Arabia. Officials said his mandate is to reassure the Jewish state that the U.S. is committed to guaranteeing its ally's regional military superiority.
Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is an implacable opponent of the deal, saying it would put Iran on a path toward acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Under the agreement, Iran pledged to curb its nuclear program for a decade in exchange for potentially hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of relief from international sanctions. Many penalties on the Iranian economy, such as those related to the energy & financial sectors, could be lifted by the end of the year.
One prominent supporter of the deal sounded less than enthusiastic.
Saudi Arabia Foreign minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir talks to the media after meeting with Secreta …
Democratic presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton, campaigning in New Hampshire, said that despite the deal, Iran continues "to be a major exporter of terrorism, instability, insurgency, proxies like Hezbollah. They remain an existential threat to Israel, they are intent upon destabilizing the Middle East."
Even so, she said, it's better to "put a lid" on its nuclear program
At a news conference in the Capitol complex, Boehner spoke strongly against the deal & rebutted one of Obama's central claims over the past two days.
"If President Obama says it's this deal or war, well that's a false choice. The sanctions were working & bringing Iran to its knees," Boehner said. The House, he added, is "going to fight a offensive deal that's wrong for our national security & wrong for our country."
Under a bill Obama signed in anticipation of the accord, he has five days to submit the agreement with Iran to Congress. Lawmakers then have 60 days to receive briefings, hold hearings & pass any legislation disapproving it.
Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir, Thu …
Strictly speaking, lawmakers do not have the authority to defeat the deal, yet they can block the president from lifting sanctions that Congress has voted to put in place. That, in turn, would let Iran argue that the United States was trying to alter a deal & walk away from it.
In announcing the deal on Tuesday, Obama said he would veto any attempt to alter the terms.
In the days since, lawmakers in both parties have largely assumed that Republicans will succeed in passing a measure in September. But it would take a two-third vote in each house to override the veto.
Boehner declined to forecast the outcome. "It's pretty clear to me that a majority of the House & the Senate at a minimum are opposed to this deal. What those numbers look like post-Labor Day, we'll see." Labor Day is a holiday on the first Monday in September.
Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper, Robert Burns, Deb Riechmann & Laurie Kellman in Washington & Josef Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this story.
John BoehnerBarack ObamaIranWhite HouseJohn Kerry
Source: “Associated Press”