Responding to some House members who want to delay a vote on the Iran deal, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said receiving missing IAEA documents wouldn’t change votes anyway.
Yesterday, Rep. Pete Roskam (R-Ill.) requested a vote on a resolution that says the review clock hasn’t started yet because Congress has not received agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency — the side deals that the Obama administration says are not in its possession and are confidential between Tehran and the UN agency.
The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act states the president must submit to Congress “all related materials and annexes” for the review clock to begin “including any joint comprehensive plan of action entered into or made between Iran and any other parties, and any additional materials related thereto, including annexes, appendices, codicils, side agreements, implementing materials, documents, and guidance, technical or other understands, and any related agreements.”
“I raise a question of the privileges of the House insisting that, until the administration complies with the law, Congress should not vote,” Roskam said Tuesday. “All members of Congress, regardless of their position on the nuclear deal, should demand the robust and transparent review process necessary to cast a fully informed vote.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters this morning that there was “very healthy conversation with our members” ongoing about how best to proceed. Debate has already started on the disapproval resolution with a vote expected Friday.
Asked about this strategy from some House members, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters outside a closed policy luncheon on the Hill that “we have to act before September the 17th, which is next week, or the deal goes forward.”
Corker acknowledged “we don’t have all the documents.”
“We spent four days back and forth, Ben Cardin and I, over a four-day period trying to work through these details of what documents would be supplied, what documents would not be supplied. And there’s no question that two of the documents are not here,” Corker said. “And by the way, I am sure that Ben was checking with Wendy Sherman and others and I’m sure that they know what the protocol is at the IAEA. But I don’t know where that takes us because as Mitch mentioned, as the Leader mentioned, the clock ends on September the 17th. The president’s going to go ahead and begin lifting sanctions.”
“And I think most of us who know as much as we know about the deal, even if the two side agreements were available and pure as the driven snow — meaning they were outstanding documents — I don’t think that would change our view of whether allowing Iran to industrialize their nuclear program is a bad deal.”
Corker argued that “the best way to express concerns about the documents, but also concerns about the deal itself, is to vote to disapprove the deal and to go forward in that manner.”
Still, he’s not disagreeing with the House members’ argument that the clock hasn’t really started ticking.
“That’s not my message. No, I’m not saying that all. And please don’t misrepresent that. But I’m sure that the president is going to conclude that that is the case. I’m sure that the U.N. Security Council is going to conclude that that’s the case. And I’m just not sure where you take that,” the chairman said.
Corker said he has spoken with some of the House members who put forth the strategy.
“We disapprove in a bipartisan way. And I think we’re much better off at this juncture having the opportunity within the window when there’s no debate about whether the clock started or not, expressing that disapproval,” he said.
“…The best way for us to continue to be able to craft, after this president leaves, good foreign policy is for us to disapprove this on the terms that we now have it.”
The House Rules Committee is meeting tonight on a plan for multiple Iran votes: the original disapproval resolution on the Iran deal, a sense of the House resolution stating the review clock by law didn’t start because Obama didn’t submit all documents to Congress, and a resolution to “affirmatively” block Obama from lifting sanctions.