The Republican-controlled House Rules Committee decided not to consider an amendment to the Defense Department policy bill on Tuesday that would have required a vote of disapproval for any future potential agreements the Obama administration reaches with Iran over its nuclear program.
The amendment to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), put forward by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), says President Obama must submit any potential agreement to Congress within 3 days after it is reached for hearings and briefings, after which a non-binding “joint resolution of disapproval” will be introduced.
The measure is similar to one put forward by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) to be included on a bill to expand security cooperation between the U.S. and Israel.
The Obama administration strongly opposes the amendment.
“We are absolutely opposed to this amendment, and any similar amendments that are intended to limit the President’s authority and ability to negotiate with foreign countries,” an unnamed senior administration official told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, referring to Corker’s measure. “Such amendments would set a precedent that would severely compromise Presidents of both parties from conducting American foreign policy. We cannot have 535 negotiators for every negotiation with a foreign country.”
While the powerful Israel lobby group AIPAC supported Corker’s amendment, Senate Foreign Affairs Committee chair Robert Menendez (D-NJ) ended up removing the bill from consideration to shield his fellow Democrats from having to make the tough choice of supporting the pro-Israel legislation versus opposing the Obama administration on the delicate Iran talks.
It’s unclear why the House Rules committee pulled Franks’ amendment. Sources close to the process said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) control the process and that Cantor may not want Franks — who previously sponsored a measure to authorize military force against Iran — be the face of the House Republicans on Iran policy. But one House staffer told ThinkProgress that “Republicans determined it wasn’t germane to the bill.”
Moreover, the NDAA won’t become law until December, many months after most experts think a final nuclear deal with Iran will be reached. As such, House Republicans are more likely to introduce Franks’ measure, or one similar, as a stand alone bill.
The six world powers concluded talks with Iran in Vienna last week without any significant breakthroughs. The two sides will resume negotiations next month with the goal of reaching a final agreement by July 20.