It started yesterday, when conservative Republicans in the House expressed strong disagreement with the GOP leadership over whether to proceed with the vote of disapproval on the Iran deal. The conservative wing aimed to force Obama to first live up to the terms of Corker-Menendez and disclose the still-secret side deals with Iran that (which are an enormously important part of the big picture.) They claimed that the clock on the Congressional review period would not start until Obama complied, and thus the disapproval vote should be delayed.

The movement had the support of Ted Cruz in the Senate, and many conservatives in the House (Roskam of Illinois; Pompeo of Kansas and the rest of the House Freedom Caucus). The House doesn’t have a cloture or filibuster rule, so it is much easier to bring something to a vote there over minority Democratic opposition than it is in the Senate.

Later, it was leaked that Boehner had given in to House conservatives on this issue, agreeing to postpone the vote and substituting a series of votes on three other resolutions in the House:

The first would declare that President Obama violated Corker-Cardin by failing to provide the side deals to Congress. The second will bar President Obama from lifting sanctions against Iran. The third will be a resolution outside of Corker-Cardin to “approve” the Iran deal that all Republicans will vote no on. Most Democrats will vote yes.

Of course, even if these three votes happen, when it’s actually time for the Senate to vote, anything that’s brought up for consideration there—whether it be these three, or the original vote of disapproval—could and probably would be filibustered successfully by the Democrats, or vetoed by Obama if any of it does manage to get far enough for a vote and passage. Harry Reid’s plan is to block any such vote on the Iran deal by denying cloture with a minority vote of at least 41, a threshhold he seems to have already attained.

So far, the Senate GOP is not in step with the House Republicans:

Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker argued Wednesday that delaying the vote as some House Republicans want is currently not the best strategy.

“As I understand the law … we have to act before Sept, 17, which is next week, or the deal does forward,” McConnell said.

They said that if Congress doesn’t act by Sept. 17, the sanctions will be lifted and the deal will be approved.

As of last evening, McConnell:

…[had] filed cloture on a resolution of disapproval of the Iran nuclear deal, as well as the House-passed shell bill that the Senate is using for the agreement…

Sen. Ted Cruz…sought to pressure McConnell to delay the Iran vote, suggesting that the 60-day review period hadn’t begun because the administration didn’t hand over the “side deals” between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

But McConnell rejected that argument…

Will the GOP in both legislative branches ultimately get in line with each other after that cloture attempt in the Senate fails (as is likely) to gain the requisite 60 votes? At least the House proposal would have the advantage of putting Democratic members of Congress on record as having supported Obama’s Iran deal with a “yes” vote, because the House would be forcing them to vote to affirmatively approve the Iran deal rather than merely to vote “nay” to a bill to disapprove it.

Voting “yes” is something most Democrats would probably prefer not to have to do. A “yes” vote for the deal is somewhat more difficult to deny, and more unequivocally supportive, than a “no” vote on a bill to disapprove the deal would be. What’s more, there’s even an outside chance that forcing Democrats into a “yes” vote might cause some to hesitate to vote for the deal, although I happen to think the vast majority will come through for Obama and Party in the end.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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