WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders on Wednesday postponed debate on President Obama’s landmark nuclear accord with Iran amid a revolt by some Republicans who claimed the White House had not disclosed secret side agreements on the deal.
The delay of the historic debate because of Republican infighting opened a new twist in the White House’s effort to move forward with the accord, but it appeared it would have little impact on its prospects. Under the legislation passed this spring that gave Congress a say in the nuclear deal, lawmakers have until mid-September to approve or disapprove the accord. If they do nothing, it goes into force.
On Tuesday, the administration succeeded in securing the votes needed in the Senate to block the Republican disapproval resolution on the deal in that chamber, sparing Mr. Obama from having to use his veto pen.
But even as the White House seemed to sidestep the potential diplomatic embarrassment that might accompany such a veto, some Republicans in the House were opening a new line of attack against the deal.
Led by Representatives Peter Roskam of Illinois and Mike Pompeo of Kansas, they alleged that there were secret side agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which will help enforce the nuclear agreement, and that the text of those agreements had not been disclosed to Congress.
Under a law adopted in April, reflecting a compromise between the White House and Republican leaders, Congress was given a formal role in approving the Iran deal, with a vote to follow a 60-day review process. The 60-day period was to begin upon transmittal of the text of the agreement.
Administration officials have repeatedly said an agreement between Iran and the atomic agency over past nuclear research at a military facility called Parchin was not connected to the deal made by Iran and six world powers to contain its nuclear program.
The I.A.E.A., which has long had a role in monitoring Iran’s nuclear program, is not covered by Congress’s Iran Nuclear Review Act, and the White House does not have the documents Republicans have demanded, administration officials have said, both in public hearings and private, classified sessions.
Still, the Republican critics now say the 60-day clock should never have started ticking and a vote — as expected this week on a resolution disapproving the accord — would be premature.
House Republicans might be examining some legal recourse to hold the administration in violation of the review act, but the delay would seem to have no impact on the final result anyway. There is not enough support for it in the Senate to overcome a Democratic filibuster and bring the resolution to an up-or-down vote.
Republicans have remained unanimous in opposition to the Iran deal, while most Democrats are backing the White House. A few Democrats in each chamber have said they will oppose the deal. Debate in each chamber was expected this week.
Republican aides said a decision to move forward could come later on Wednesday.
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(via NY Times)