WASHINGTON — Rep. Steve Scalise, a top Republican leader in the House, continued to push Thursday to kill the Iran nuclear deal, despite Senate action that makes it almost certain the deal will take effect.
“You cannot allow this to go through,” Scalise said on the House floor. “I urge all of my colleagues to reject this deal. The president lays out a false premise that’s it’s this deal or war. I would suggest... there’s a much better approach, and that is to go get a better deal that protects the interest of the United States of America for today and for decades to come.”
Scalise has noted that U.S. allies have raised the possibility the deal will spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
“This isn’t the way we ought to go,” said Scalise, who held a town hall on the Iran deal in Jefferson earlier this month
The House voted Thursday on the first of three bills to undo the agreement. The others are expected tomorrow. The votes are largely symbolic because Democrats in the Senate succeeded Thursday in blocking a final vote there on a resolution rejecting the nuclear deal.
The 58-42 vote to advance the resolution was two votes short of what the measure needed to succeed.
That will spare President Barack Obama from having to veto any legislation rejecting the deal, although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he may bring the resolution back for another vote next week.
Under legislation passed by Congress in May, the deal will take effect unless both the House and Senate vote for a resolution of disapproval by Sept. 17. House efforts to stop the deal will die without Senate support.
House GOP leaders split from the Senate on strategy this week, deciding against voting on the disapproval resolution. Bowing to pressure from conservative members, they instead opted to take up legislation that they said could pave the way for possible litigation to stop the deal from being fully implemented.
The nuclear agreement, negotiated by the U.S. and five other world powers, would lift economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran agreeing not to develop nuclear weapons for at least a decade.
Louisiana Republicans also oppose the deal.
“Today’s vote calls the President out on the carpet,” Rep. John Fleming said in a statement. Fleming said not much has changed since the agreement was reached.
“Iran continues to spew venom at Israel and assail the United States,” he said. “Yet, the President is asking Congress to support a bad deal with a bad actor without furnishing crucial information.”
Rep. Cedric Richmond, the lone Democrat in Louisiana’s delegation, said Thursday he will support the deal, but he called it “far from perfect.”
Richmond said it was one of the toughest decisions he’s had to make while in Congress.
“For all of its shortcomings, this deal takes clear and strong steps to ensure that Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon,” he said in a statement. “This agreement is not built on trust. It is built on distrust, verification, vigilance and enforcement.”