House continues effort to snarl Iran nuclear deal

Deb Riechmann
Associated Press

Washington — House Republicans pushed Friday toward votes challenging President Barack Obama over the Iran nuclear deal even though the Senate has already preserved the accord.

Senate action on Thursday all but guaranteed that any legislation disapproving of the deal will never reach Obama’s desk. Moreover, House Democrats late Thursday announced there are now 146 members of the House who have publicly voiced their support of the deal — enough to uphold a presidential veto even if any GOP legislation against the deal could get through.

After statements on the floor recognizing the Sept. 11 anniversary of the 2001 terror attacks, Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, blasted the international agreement, which gives Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for imposing restraints on its nuclear program. The House is to vote later Friday on whether to approve of the nuclear deal.

“This isn’t just a bad deal,” Royce said. “It’s disastrous deal. It’s a disaster for the United States. It’s a disaster for our allies and friends in the region, including Israel. … We got permanent sanctions relief for the Iranian regime — relief that’s going to go into their military — in exchange for temporary constraints on Iran’s nuclear program.”

Michigan Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, criticized as a politically motivated attack on Obama a measure to suspend until Jan. 21, 2017 — a day after a new president is sworn into office — Obama’s authority to waive, suspend or reduce sanctions on Iran.

“This is not a serious attempt to legislate. Quite simply, it’s a political attack on the president of the United States and an attempt to derail a good deal that is in the best interest of our nation,” Conyers said.

Senate Democrats voted on Thursday to uphold the accord with Iran, overcoming heavy GOP opposition to hand Obama a victory on his top foreign policy priority. A disapproval resolution for the agreement fell two votes short of the 60 needed to move forward as most Democratic and independent senators banded together against it.

On the other side of the Capitol, the House adopted a resolution on a vote of 245-186 saying that Obama had not complied with the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. Supporters of the resolution claim the act required the president to supply Congress with all documents relevant to the deal, but that the administration did not give lawmakers texts of two agreements that the U.N. nuclear inspection agency negotiated separately with Tehran.

The administration says it doesn’t have the bilateral agreements and the nuclear inspection agency says confidentiality provisions prevent it from releasing them.