The House voted Friday to extend American sanctions on Iran until January and went on record rejecting the deal President Obama and other international leaders reached to curtail the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, in votes more freighted with symbolism than effect at this point.
Obama has already said he will move ahead with the deal on Sept. 17, after a Senate filibuster Thursday showed he has enough support to sustain the agreement in Congress.
The House vote to delay sanctions was 247-186, while the Iran deal was rejected 269-162, with zero Republicans supporting it and 25 Democrats voting against it.
Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said the agreement was “a disaster” for the U.S., and Iran won everything in the negotiations, breaking the four points nearly every House lawmaker had insisted be part of the deal: anytime, anywhere inspections, lasting multiple decades, with sanctions being lifted over time, and only after Iran detailed the history of its program.
But most Democrats rallied to Mr. Obama and embraced the deal, and questioned the motives behind Republicans’ efforts to keep the sanctions in place even longer.
“It’s a political attack on the president of the United States and an attempt to derail a good deal that is in the best interests of our nation,” said Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat.
The deal requires Iran to shut down some facilities and allow monitoring of its nuclear progress, and in exchange Iran gets access to tens of billions of dollars of its money that’s been frozen in international banks, can continue to enrich uranium at levels below that needed to create a bomb, and will see crippling economic sanctions removed.
Under the terms Congress and Mr. Obama agreed to earlier this year, the president was required to submit the deal to Capitol Hill for approval, and Congress had 60 days to act or else the president could move ahead.
The White House says that time runs out on Sept. 17, but the House voted Thursday to assert that the clock hasn’t actually begun because the White House didn’t submit all of the documents.