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US House Votes to Reject Iran Nuclear Deal


U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and collegues participate in a rally in support of the nuclear deal with Iran on the East Front steps of the US Capitol in Washington, ahead of the House vote, Sept. 8, 2015.

The international nuclear deal with Iran "will not stop a nuclear Iran, but will instead endanger America and our allies for years to come," U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said Saturday in the weekly Republican address.

McCaul said "Instead of countering the [Iranian] regime's terrorist networks, the White House let them spread."

The House voted Friday to reject the international deal with Iran to curb its nuclear weapons, after a morning of emotional debate.

Since the Senate held a decisive vote blocking a disapproval measure Thursday, the House vote is largely symbolic. It is intended to send a message to President Barack Obama and his administration, who have pushed hard for the deal in negotiations over the past 18 months.

Some Democrats break ranks

The House held three votes on the Iran deal Thursday and Friday. One vote was a resolution to approve the Iran nuclear deal, which, as expected, failed by a vote of 162-269. One Republican member voted "present," all other Republican members voted against the deal. Twenty-five Democrats broke ranks to vote against the deal.

During the heated debate on the 14th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, House Speaker John Boehner vowed, "Our fight to stop this bad deal, frankly, is just beginning."

He said the president is seeking to implement the deal against the wishes of Congress and the American people, "Never in our history has something with so many consequences for our national security been rammed through with such little support. Today is September 11th. We cannot let the American people down."

Obama reaction

In a written statement issued by the White House, Obama maintained that the House vote showed that the more lawmakers studied the deal, the more likely they were to support it.

"Now, we must turn to the critical work of implementing and verifying this deal so that Iran cannot pursue a nuclear weapon," he said. "In doing so, we’ll write the latest chapter of American leadership in the pursuit of a safer, more hopeful world."

Democratic lawmakers blasted Republicans, saying that not a single Republican supported the Iran deal, though not all Democrats had the same opinion or voted the same way.

Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer chided the Republicans for failing to vote in favor of the nuclear deal despite strong support from some of the most respected Republican foreign policy leaders, including former Senators Richard Lugar and John Warner, retired Air Force Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft and former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Democratic Representative Charles Rangel said it pained him that many Republicans would do anything to deny Obama a victory. Rangel said, “I know that if the President of the United States was able to walk on water, there would be people in this chamber who would say, 'See, we told you he could not swim."

What's next

Facing internal dissent over how to proceed, House Republican leaders decided to abandon their original plans to hold a vote on a resolution disapproving the Iran deal. Instead the House Republicans called for the three separate votes to express their strong opposition to the deal, but it is not clear if any of those votes will be taken up by the Senate.

Speaker Boehner would not rule out a potential lawsuit against the Obama administration, alleging the president did not give Congress all the information on the deal at the start of the 60-day review period. That 60-day period expires September 17th, and the president is expected to proceed with implementation of the deal.

Opponents of the nuclear deal are angry lawmakers have not had a chance to see the side deals between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

On Thursday, Senate Democrats blocked a vote to reject the deal, effectively ending any chance Congress can kill the deal. The White House called the Senate vote "historic" and a victory for global security and diplomacy.