By Deb Riechmann ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON — The Republican-led House cast largely symbolic votes against the Iran nuclear deal on Friday and sought to restrict President Barack Obama’s authority to lift sanctions against Tehran, one day after the Senate ensured that the administration can implement the accord without congressional interference.
After three hours of hot-tempered debate, the House voted 269-162 to reject the deal; 25 Democrats broke with Obama to register their disapproval.
Among Ohio lawmakers, Republican Reps. Pat Tiberi of Genoa Township, Steve Stivers of Upper Arlington, Bob Gibbs of Lakeville and Bill Johnson of Marietta opposed the deal. Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty of Jefferson Township supported it.
“This agreement leaves us with unknown side deals, an empowered Iranian regime, the risk of an arms race, an increased possibility of war, continued imprisonment of American hostages and an Iran that will still have nuclear capabilities that are consequences of this agreement,” Tiberi said. “ The president’s wrong.”
“The choice we have is not between this deal and war. We can and should negotiate a better deal, one that includes robust inspections and denies Iran nuclear capabilities.”
Gibbs said “we cannot allow the enactment of a deal that rewards Iran with sanctions relief and the ability to inspect itself.”
House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester, said “this is such a bad deal the ayatollah won’t even have to cheat to be steps away from a nuclear weapon.”
Beatty acknowledged that the decision was “not easy,” but she said “ultimately, I decided to vote for the agreement and pledge to continue to support taking every necessary step to preclude Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold nation and from being able to promote and finance terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere.”
The fate of the agreement on Capitol Hill, however, was sealed on Thursday when Senate Democrats voted to uphold the accord, overcoming heavy GOP opposition to hand Obama a victory on his top foreign-policy priority. The Senate action guaranteed that legislation disapproving of the accord will never reach Obama’s desk.
Obama marked the end of the House votes with a statement saying it is time to turn the page.
“Now, we must turn to the critical work of implementing and verifying this deal so that Iran cannot pursue a nuclear weapon,” the president said. “In doing so, we’ll write the latest chapter of American leadership in the pursuit of a safer, more hopeful world.”
During the debate, Democrats argued that the agreement would stabilize the Mideast, stop Iran from rushing to develop a nuclear bomb and offer a chance to end the standoff with Iran diplomatically, while retaining a U.S. threat of military action.
Republicans countered that the agreement’s inspection regimen in Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism, is weak, and they repeatedly recalled how Islamic extremists attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001. They said the deal will allow Iran to eventually possess a nuclear weapon and that the billions it will receive through sanctions relief will end up in the hands of terrorist groups that Tehran supports.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said that if the Iranians cheat, inspectors using advanced technology will know it. She noted that Iran already is on the threshold of being a nuclear-armed state and that the agreement delays this from becoming a reality for at least a decade.
In a second vote, the House passed 247-186 a measure to suspend until Jan. 21, 2017 — a day after a new president is sworn into office — the president’s authority to waive, suspend or reduce sanctions on Iran.
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., spoke vehemently against the deal but acknowledged that the vote will not stop the president from implementing the agreement. The House measures could come up in the Senate next week but would face a filibuster by Senate Democrats, and Sept. 17 — the date slated for the close of congressional review of the deal — is less than a week away.
“I know the president may have already lined up enough support to save his deal. But with this vote, we need to send a message to both Iran and the world,” Ryan said.
“The regime may have bamboozled this administration, but the American people know that this is a rotten deal.”
As part of the last-ditch effort to snarl the deal, the House on Thursday adopted a resolution on a vote of 245-186 saying that Obama had not complied with the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.
Supporters of the resolution claimed the act required the president to supply Congress with all documents relevant to the deal but the administration did not give lawmakers texts of two agreements that the U.N. nuclear-inspection agency negotiated separately with Tehran.
The administration says it doesn’t have the bilateral agreements, and the nuclear inspection agency says confidentiality provisions prevent it from releasing them.
Marc Baedorf of the Dispatch Washington bureau contributed to this report.