US House Votes Against Deal in Symbolic Move

US House Votes Against Deal in Symbolic Move   US House Votes Against Deal in Symbolic Move

The Republican-led US House of Representatives cast largely symbolic votes on Friday against the Iran nuclear deal and sought to restrict President Barack Obama's authority to lift sanctions against Tehran, one day after the senate ensured that the administration can implement the accord without congressional interference.

After three hours of hot-tempered debate, the house voted 269 to 162 to reject the deal; 25 Democrats broke with Obama to register their disapproval, the AP reported.

The fate of the agreement on Capitol Hill, however, was sealed on Thursday when senate Democrats voted to uphold the accord with Iran, overcoming heavy Republican opposition to hand Obama a victory on his top foreign policy priority. The senate action guaranteed that any legislation disapproving of the accord will never reach Obama's desk.       

  Time to Turn Page

Obama marked the end of house votes with a statement saying it is time to turn the page.

“Now, we must turn to the critical work of implementing and verifying this deal,” he said in a statement.

During the debate, Democrats argued that the agreement would stabilize the Mideast, curb Iran’s nuclear activities and offer a chance to end the standoff with Iran diplomatically. They said house Republicans used their opposition to the nuclear deal to take a partisan shot at the president.

Republicans countered that the agreement’s inspection regime against Iran is weak. They said the deal will allow Iran to eventually develop a nuclear weapon.

Iran denies the charge it may be seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability, saying the work is only for peaceful purposes.

“This deal is far worse than anything I could have imagined,” said Republican House Speaker John Boehner. Boehner said it does not have a rigorous enough inspection regime, will allow Iran to keep thousands of centrifuges spinning and will leave the nation with a chance to become a nuclear-armed state in about a decade. He said all options remain on the table for the Republicans to stop the agreement, including a possible lawsuit.

  Just Beginning

“Never in our history has something with so many consequences for our national security been rammed through with such little support,” Boehner said. “Our fight to stop this bad deal is just beginning. We will not let the American people down.”

In a second vote, the house passed 247 to 186 a measure to suspend until Jan. 21, 2017 — a day after a new US president is sworn into office — Obama’s authority to waive, suspend or reduce sanctions on Iran.

Republican Representative Paul Ryan spoke vehemently against the deal but acknowledged that the vote will not stop Obama from implementing the agreement. The house measures could come up in the senate next week, but would face a filibuster by senate Democrats and Sept. 17 — the date slated for the close of congressional review of the deal — is less than a week away.

“I know the president may have already lined up enough support to save his deal. But with this vote, we need to send a message to both Iran and the world,” Ryan said.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest dismissed Boehner’s warning that he might sue Obama over the Iran deal, saying “We obviously feel quite confident in our ability to move forward with the rest of the international community.”

  Last-Ditch Effort

As part of the last-ditch effort to snarl the deal, the house on Thursday 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 claimed 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 UN nuclear inspection agency negotiated separately with Tehran.

The US administration says it does not have the bilateral agreements and the nuclear inspection agency says confidentiality provisions prevent it from releasing them.