House Approves Senate's Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act

Today, the House of Representatives approved the Senate's Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which would give Congress a minor role in debating any deal President Obama makes with Iran regarding its nuclear program.

The legislation passed the Senate 98-1 after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell killed the chance to strengthen it with amendments. The House followed with the same tactic of stifling debate on a vital foreign policy measure, and approved it by a vote of 400-25.

It deserved an open discussion in the Senate, and the House should not have punted on its responsibility to have one.

The bill is a feeble substitute for an assertive congressional role in shaping our interaction with Iran, one of the most dangerous countries in the world, an exporter of terror, and a jailer of Americans. An Iran with nuclear arms -- combined with a dedication to end the existence of Israel and a hatred of the United States -- is unacceptable.

The legislation passed by Congress provides that any deal the president makes with Iran won't be carried out if Congress disapproves the agreement. The road is wide open for Congress to do what it does best under these conditions: pass the buck and avoid a tough debate on the accord. Today's House floor action is a case in point: by moving the Iran bill, House leadership had to be prepared to respond to critics of how they handled the bill and to counter the narrative that the bill is weak. Speaker Boehner and his team brought a bill to the floor that would crack down on the funding and activities of the Hezbollah terrorist organization. Iran is Hezbollah's patron, and thus the bill would hurt Iran and promote American interests.

That bill is wise and necessary. It is a shame that it didn't have a committee hearing in the House before coming to the floor for a vote, violating regular order. And it wasn't even introduced until the day before it was voted on, so it didn't appear on Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's weekly schedule released on May 8.

When the Senate was considering the bill before sending it to the House, Senator Rubio had a wise amendment to require that Iran recognize the state of Israel, and Senator Cotton had a reasonable amendment that would have required Iran to agree to provide more information about its nuclear operations and permit more stringent inspections of them. Majority Leader McConnell gave into Democrat Minority Leader Harry Reid, and pushed the bill though without debating these amendments.

House Speaker Boehner went even further. He didn’t permit the House Foreign Affairs Committee to debate the bill and mark it up; even the Senate did that. Instead, the House brought up the bill under an expedited procedure known as suspension of the rules, a process normally reserved for noncontroversial measures such as naming post offices.