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U.S. House passes Iran nuclear review legislation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to pass legislation giving Congress the right to review, and possibly reject, an international nuclear agreement with Iran.

Senate Major leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) heads to the Senate floor for a cloture vote on Capitol Hill in Washington May 7, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

The 400-25 vote sends the legislation to the White House, where administration officials have said President Barack Obama will sign it into law.

The Iran Nuclear Review Act of 2015 passed the Senate last week after lawmakers reached a compromise removing some of its toughest provisions, and Obama dropped his threat to veto the measure as a threat to continuing negotiations between the United States and other world powers and Iran.

The bill gives Congress 30 days to review a final nuclear deal after international negotiators reach such an agreement, and during that time bars Obama from temporarily waiving any U.S. sanctions on Iran that were passed by Congress.

The Republican House Speaker, John Boehner, said the legislation was the only way Congress would be able to stop a bad deal, saying that Americans, and U.S. allies, are worried that Obama’s White House “will do anything to get one.”

Some conservative Republican lawmakers had objected to the bill, originally authored by Republican Senator Bob Corker, saying it did not impose strict enough conditions on Iran in a possible nuclear agreement.

To appease those conservatives in the House, the chamber’s leaders arranged a vote on a measure that would tighten U.S. sanctions against the Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah.

Hezbollah was founded with Iranian help in the 1980s to fight Israel in Lebanon. It has grown into a powerful political and military force and is fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s army in Syria’s civil war.

That sanctions measure passed by 423-0. “Passing the Iran and Hezbollah bills today is a one-two punch against terrorist-backing Iran’s nuclear weapons drive,” said U.S. Representative Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.

The sanctions bill has not yet been taken up in the Senate so would not be sent to Obama’s desk for his signature.

The House voted on the measures as Obama hosted a Gulf Cooperation Council summit on Thursday at which he sought to reassure Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies of Washington’s commitment to their security despite their deep concerns about efforts to broker a nuclear deal with Tehran.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Eric Beech, Doina Chiacu and Jonathan Oatis