GOP Leaders Weigh Pulling Iran Disapproval Resolution (Updated)
Updated 1:13 p.m. | Faced with a potential mutiny on a procedural vote to bring up a disapproval resolution on the Iran nuclear agreement, House GOP leadership is considering delaying the anti-deal vote and taking up different legislation stating that the president has not held up his side of the bargain.
GOP leaders emerged from the Republican Conference’s weekly meeting Wednesday morning expressing some uncertainty about whether they should proceed with the anti-deal resolution. Republicans are scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. behind closed doors to discuss the next steps.
“We had a very healthy conversation with our members this morning,” Speaker John A. Boehner told reporters. “Certainly some interest amongst the ideas offered by [Rep. Mike] Pompeo and [Rep. Peter] Roskam, and we’re going to continue to have those conversations this morning.”
What Roskam and Pompeo are proposing is a resolution that states President Barack Obama failed his obligation to disclose all information about the Iran deal. The resolution comes after reports of a “side deal” between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The House Freedom Caucus met late Tuesday night in the basement of Tortilla Coast to discuss a strategy in which Republicans would vote down their own leadership’s rule for the disapproval resolution. But first, they would pressure leaders during Wednesday morning’s conference meeting to delay the vote.
It’s still unclear what Boehner will do.
If the House does not vote on the Iran nuclear deal, some Republicans see that as letting Democrats off the hook. Democrats may never have to go on the record about where they stand on a resolution that would divide their caucus.
At the same time, voting on the resolution simply brings the deal one step closer to affirmation. Even if the resolution is adopted, there are now enough Democrats in the Senate who support the deal that they could filibuster the legislation. President Barack Obama probably wouldn’t even have to veto the legislation, because Democrats could simply block it.
If the House passes a resolution stating the president hasn’t followed the law by not disclosing the content of so-called “side deals” and therefore the president doesn’t have the authority to implement the Iran agreement, Obama would almost certainly move ahead anyway. In many ways, however, that’s exactly the point conservatives want to make.
This is a lawless president, they say. The Iran deal should be nullified because Obama didn’t follow the law, they’ll argue. Let’s take him to court, they’ll probably conclude.
If Republicans are just playing out the string on an Iran deal that’s already done, there are some in the GOP who think Congress might as well reserve the right to make its case in court. At least, that’s what Roskam seems to be arguing.
And while Roskam’s office told CQ Roll Call on Wednesday that “all options are on the table” about whether he’d vote against the rule to bring forward the disapproval resolution, it’s clear there are plenty of Republicans who would.
Justin Amash, R-Mich., one of the founding members of the House Freedom Caucus, definitively told CQ Roll Call he would vote against the rule if leaders bring it forward — and said he thinks there’s a critical mass of Republicans willing to block the resolution from getting to the floor.
Still, plenty of conservatives seem divided on whether it makes sense to block the disapproval resolution from getting to the floor Wednesday afternoon.
Alabama Republican Mo Brooks said he hadn’t made up his mind, and while he said there was an interesting argument to make that not voting on the resolution lets Democrats off the hook, he also said there’d be “no valid agreement” between Iran and the United States if the House did nothing.
“In a court of law, there would be no agreement because the president has not complied with the notification requirement set forth in the statute that the president signed,” Brooks said.
Rep. Randy Weber of Texas said he was also undecided.
On the one hand, Weber said, Roskam’s resolution would frame this discussion in a way that says the president has not complied with the law. But on the other hand, “Democrats need to take this vote.”
“Because their districts need to see on whose side they stand,” Weber continued. “Are they willing to fritter away Americans’ national security with such, I would say, an uninformed vote?”
Weber also said time was the problem. If Congress doesn’t act, the Iran nuclear deal is set to kick in on Sept. 17. And a delay now could mean that the House never votes, and Weber had “mixed emotions” about whether a vote on the Roskam resolution would sufficiently put Democrats on the record.
Whether Boehner moves forward or not could be the first test for conservatives in whether they upgrade a resolution to strip the speaker of his gavel from a non-privileged resolution to a privileged one.
North Carolina Republican Mark Meadows, who authored the resolution to end Boehner’s speakership, told CQ Roll Call last week that the Iran deal would be one of the first tests of whether Boehner was listening to the conference.