- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The House voted Wednesday to undercut President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal by preventing him from lifting sanctions on some banks and regime officials, as Republicans moved to try to punish the Islamic Republic for its belligerent international stance.

But just minutes later GOP leaders revoked the vote, after a furor erupted over the amount of time Republican leaders gave for the chamber to vote on the bill. More than 100 lawmakers missed the vote.

A revote has been scheduled for Jan. 26 — though the totals will be higher, the outcome is likely to be the same as Wednesday’s 191-106 vote, which broke broke the bipartisan coalition that had emerged last year on Iran.

Democrats said the new fight appeared to be more about “embarrassing” Mr. Obama on the world stage than an effort to try to find successful ways to rein in the Iranian regime.

Under the terms of the Iran deal, hundreds of Iranian banks and officials who had been involved in the country’s banned nuclear program will now get access to tens of billions of dollars in oil assets that have been frozen for years.



Republicans, though, said they don’t want Mr. Obama to grant reprieves to any of those entities if they have also been involved in terrorism or Iran’s ballistic missile program, which also violates international strictures.

“The Iranian threat isn’t going away,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said, ticking off a list of aggressions in the six months since the nuclear deal, including ballistic missile tests, the arrest of a fifth American and increased support for Syria’s embattled government.

This week, Iran also detained 10 U.S. Navy sailors who the regime said strayed into their territorial waters. The 10 were released Wednesday, but many lawmakers on Capitol Hill bristled at what they saw as another belligerent step.

Democrats dismissed the new legislation as an effort to re-fight last year’s battle over the Iran deal. Rep. Eliot L. Engel, a New York Democrat who sided with the GOP in that fight, said he couldn’t join them this time around.

“Our side lost the debate. The deal is in place. Now we need to make sure Iran is living up to its commitments under that deal,” said Mr. Engel, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. “Symbolic votes won’t help us crack down on Iran’s support for terrorism.”

He and other Democrats said Republicans never reached out to them to try to write a bill that could pass, and said that meant the House had wasted a chance to try to strike a deal with real teeth.

Mr. Obama had promised a veto of the bill, should it reach his desk — though it was doubtful the bill would get that far, since Senate Democrats would likely filibuster were the GOP to raise the measure there.

The House vote proved just as contentious as Mr. Obama’s Iran policy.

New House Speaker Paul D. Ryan had warned in recent days that he would start enforcing limits on voting times, cracking down on a practice where lawmakers take advantage of an unwritten grace period to mosey to the floor.

Wednesday’s Iran vote was supposed to last a minimum of 15 minutes, though such votes are often extended 25 minutes or longer. GOP leaders cut off the vote after just 17 minutes.

After protests by enraged House members, the GOP leadership relented, with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy vacating the vote and rescheduling it for Jan. 26.

“This was an extraordinarily important vote, large members of both sides missed it,” said House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, in thanking the GOP for relenting.

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