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Roskam’s ‘Messaging’ Idea Could Upend Boehner’s Iran Deal Strategy

Roskam's "messaging" idea may have caught on. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Roskam's "messaging" idea may have caught on. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In mid-August, Rep. Peter Roskam’s office said the Illinois Republican’s resolution condemning the Iran nuclear deal was just a messaging vehicle, a way for members to go on the record early in opposition to the agreement.  

It wouldn’t, aides said, interfere with Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce’s formal disapproval resolution to block implementation of the deal by President Barack Obama’s administration and other world powers.  

But last week, the co-chairman of the House Republican Israel Caucus decided he wasn’t finished yet, and now Roskam is threatening to derail House Republican leadership’s plans to debate and vote on the resolution within the next three days. Roskam made a motion on the House floor Tuesday to delay a vote on Royce’s disapproval measure until the Obama administration transmits to Congress all the secret “side deals” in the nuclear agreement.  

If the parliamentarian rules the motion “privileged,” the House must take some action on it by Thursday.

An aide for Roskam told CQ Roll Call Wednesday morning his boss, once the chief deputy whip with a seat at the Republican leadership table, had given Speaker John A. Boehner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy a heads up over the weekend that he planned Tuesday to offer his privileged motion.

The aide confirmed Roskam has also looped in Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., a member of the House Intelligence Committee who, along with Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., has been leading the charge for the release of the side deals.  

Roskam has not, according to the aide, been coordinating with the House Freedom Caucus, the hard-line contingent of the GOP conference that is now championing Roskam’s motion and threatening to sink the rule for consideration of Royce’s resolution on Wednesday afternoon. The lawmaker has also not been in talks with Heritage Action, the advocacy group that has started to gin up the conservative base around Roskam’s maneuver. Both the Freedom Caucus and Heritage Action want Roskam’s new resolution be considered to take the place of the Royce resolution.  

The distinctions are important given what the implications would be for Roskam morphing from a leadership loyalist and establishment Republican to a member of the more bombastic and ideological wing of the conference.  

Roskam isn’t intending to be difficult, said his aide, though the fact remains he might have ignited a political firestorm and a tense situation for Boehner whose hold on power is already somewhat tenuous . The aide expects a vote on Roskam’s motion Thursday, while parliamentarians are still reportedly looking into whether the member’s Tuesday motion was privileged and thereby requiring a vote on the House floor.  

Meanwhile, Roskam is not yet sure whether he will vote with other conservatives to reject the rule for consideration of the Royce disapproval resolution.  

“All options are on the table,” said the aide.  

Correction 11:40 a.m. An earlier version of this article mischaracterized what Roskam wanted a vote on.  

Matt Fuller contributed to this report.

Freedom Caucus to Leadership: Delay Iran Vote

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