House Republicans are considering various legislative options that would either tacitly or explicitly rip the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.
A handful of House GOP lawmakers told The Hill that the party is debating how best to express disapproval of the multilateral agreement, which was struck shortly after Congress left for Thanksgiving recess.
Noting that Cantor is “very concerned with where the president is leading us,” the source said the No. 2 GOP House leader intended to work closely with Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) to produce a legislative response.
Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), said, “The overwhelming sentiment [among House Republicans is] this was an agreement that was foolish, dangerous, and that we need to do something and push forward.”
Many Republicans and some Democrats have criticized the nuclear pact because it does not insist that Iran suspend all uranium enrichment.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has asserted Iran got more than it gave up, saying it “does not seem proportional.”
Cantor spokesman Rory Cooper said, “The leader does not believe the interim agreement the White House negotiated with Iran was in our nation’s best interests, so he will work with members on both sides of the aisle to determine that any final deal definitively addresses serious congressional concerns.”
According to several participants at the Tuesday morning meeting, House Republicans focused on several possible responses to the six-month agreement endorsed by the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and Iran. Under the deal, Iran agreed to enrich less uranium and allow nuclear weapons inspections in exchange for the elimination of nearly $7 billion in sanctions.
One option would be pressuring the Senate to consider new sanctions on Iran. The House this summer passed a bill with bipartisan support to do just that, 400-20.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has repeatedly noted that the House passed an Iran sanctions bill and that it is sitting in the Senate.
Contrary to the wishes of the White House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Schumer have indicated the upper chamber will tackle a companion bill next week.
The other option for House Republicans would be a resolution to formally disapprove of the interim deal.
“I think that we should have a sense of the House that we oppose the deal,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), a senior Foreign Affairs Committee member.
Some Democrats would likely vote for such a measure, though Rohrabacher suspects “there are a lot of people on the Democratic side of the aisle who seem to feel compelled to support the administration on anything they possibly can, and this might fall within that range because you’ve got a Democratic president under attack.”
More than a few Republicans, including Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (Texas), have suggested the Iran agreement was timed to distract from the disastrous rollout of ObamaCare.
It is unclear when the House will act on an Iran resolution; the lower chamber is scheduled to adjourn for the year at the end of next week.
Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday will appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to discuss the deal.