What Happens When Congress Votes on the Iran Deal?

With 30 senators now supporting the agreement with Iran, Obama is edging closer to ensuring it stands.

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Who will enjoy the last laugh following this week's agreement between Iran and the world powers?
Who will enjoy the last laugh following this week's agreement between Iran and the world powers?Credit: AP

Another U.S. Democratic senator said on Friday he would support the U.S.-led nuclear agreement with Iran, moving President Barack Obama a step closer to having sufficient backing to ensure the deal stands.

Tom Carper backed the deal negotiated by the United States and other world powers that would put new limits on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for eased economic sanctions.

Obama is trying to muster 34 votes in the Senate to ensure lawmakers cannot kill the deal. Thirty senators, all Democrats and independents who vote with Democrats, have now said they will support it.

Congress must vote on the deal by September 17. The following describes how votes are likely to play out:

When Congress returns on September 8 from its August recess, debate will begin on a Republican-sponsored "resolution of disapproval" against the deal

In the Senate, Republicans must gather 60 votes to move the resolution forward under Senate procedural rules. If they can, they will then need a simple majority of 51 votes in the chamber to approve the resolution. It would pass, because Republicans control a majority of Senate seats and most have already come out against the agreement.

Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware, speaks during an interview in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013.Credit: Bloomberg

There is no similar procedural barrier in the House. The resolution is expected to easily win approval there. Republicans hold 246 seats in the 435-seat House.

If both chambers approve the resolution, it would go to Obama's desk for review. He has vowed to veto it.

If he does so, opponents would then try to override the veto. This would take a two-thirds majority vote in each chamber. The Senate has 100 members; the House, 434, plus one vacant seat.

Democrats could block an override in the Senate with 34 votes. So far, 30 senators have committed to voting in favor of the deal; 31 have said they will oppose it.

In the House, if Republicans voted unanimously against the deal, they would need to get at least 44 Democrats to vote with them to override a veto.

The Iran deal is not a treaty, so it does not need the two-thirds vote in the Senate to be ratified. The "resolution of disapproval" mechanism was included in a law Obama signed in May giving Congress the right to weigh in on the nuclear deal with Iran.

If Congress were to pass a resolution of disapproval and override a veto, Obama would be barred from waiving most of the U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear program. Proponents of the agreement say this would kill the deal.

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