A week before the Iran nuclear deal takes effect and just hours after Senate Democrats dealt the Iran disapproval resolution a major procedural blow, House Republicans adopted a resolution stating the Sept. 17 deadline is null and void.
On a party-line vote, the House voted 245-186 to adopt a resolution that President Barack Obama has not complied with the Iran nuclear review act, and therefore, the 60-day period for Congress to act on the deal has not started. The argument from House Republicans is that they did not receive the text of a "side deal" between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency. While the practical effect of the resolution is legislatively decorative, Republicans seem to think adopting the resolution will bolster their legal argument that the Iran deal is invalid. (The end game on Iran seems to be another House of Representatives vs. Obama case.)
While Thursday's debate was purportedly about whether Obama had disclosed all necessary agreements on Iran, the nearly two hours of floor debate was mostly a party-line argument over the deal itself.
The closest the House seemed to get to an actual debate over whether Obama had disclosed the entirety of the deal was when Appropriations ranking member Nita M. Lowey of New York, who is opposed to the Iran deal, said she was outraged that Republicans were trying to score political points on global security.
"The threat to pursue wasteful litigation and tie the hands of our president until the end of his term are particularly outrageous when the Senate has indicated it will not even consider these measures," Lowey said.
One key Democrat missing from floor proceedings Thursday was Rep. Eliot L. Engel of New York. As the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Engel would ordinarily play an outsized role in managing speaking time for his party during debate on Iran legislation, especially considering Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., managed Republican time.
But with Engel declaring his opposition to the nuclear deal early on, Democratic floor time was divided between Reps. Adam B. Schiff of California and Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the ranking members of Intelligence and Oversight and Government Reform, respectively.
This is the first vote in a series of three pieces of Iran legislation the House is set to vote on this week. On Friday the House is scheduled to vote on an approval for the Iran deal, a resolution created by the GOP to force Democrats to go on the record, and a measure that would block President Barack Obama from lifting sanctions on Iran for the remainder of his term.
House GOP leadership embraced this strategy after Reps. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., and Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., argued the president had failed, as called for under Corker-Cardin, to transmit to Congress “all related materials and annexes" on the deal. After Roskam dropped a similar resolution Tuesday, House Freedom Caucus members threatened to vote down the rule for the disapproval resolution on Wednesday.
Ultimately, GOP leadership went along with the plan.
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