- The Washington Times - Friday, September 11, 2015

President Obama is set to implement his historic nuclear deal with Iran as soon as this week, barring a stunning flip-flop by Senate Democrats who’ve already blocked GOP attempts to derail the deal and are slated to repeat that assist to the White House on Tuesday.

Congressional Republicans vowed to continue their fight against the deal, struck by the U.S. and international leaders to block the Islamic republic’s path to a nuclear bomb in exchange for sanctions relief, saying it gives Iran a “cash windfall” to sponsor terrorism and surreptitiously chase an atomic weapon.

“It will instead endanger America and our allies for years to come,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, Texas Republican, said in the GOP’s weekly address. “It will leave Iran with the ingredients for a bomb and the infrastructure to build it.”

But they’ve run out of options to do anything about it, after an intense White House lobbying effort secured the 41 Democratic votes needed to preserve the pact without Mr. Obama even having to veto a resolution of disapproval.

Mr. Obama has already said he will move ahead with the deal Thursday, after a Senate filibuster last week showed he has enough support to sustain the agreement in Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, has scheduled a procedural vote late Tuesday that amounts to a redo of the vote that failed, on a 58-42 majority, to achieve the 60-vote threshold needed to break through Democratic opposition and force Mr. Obama to use his veto.

The White House is banking on the same result this week, as no Democrats have indicated they will suddenly flip.

On Friday, the House voted to extend American sanctions on Iran until January and went on record rejecting the deal in votes more freighted with symbolism than effect.

The 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.

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, California Republican, 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.

That raises legal questions, and House Speaker John A. Boehner said legal action is possible. But the Senate undercut that stance this week when GOP leaders instead held a vote on the deal itself.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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