Cruz Endorses House Conservatives’ Plot To Derail Iran Deal Vote They Demanded

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Updated at 12:11 p.m.:

A plan hatched by “Tortilla Coast” House conservatives to delay a Congressional vote disapproving of President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal got the endorsement of their ringleader in the Senate, GOP 2016er Ted Cruz (R-TX), who took to the Senate floor to outline it Wednesday.

The plan would require lawmakers to vote on a resolution declaring that the Obama administration had not submitted the entirety of the agreement
— specifically details of so-called “side deals” between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency — and thus that the review period ordained by the Corker-Cardin compromise had not been triggered.

Cruz explained:

“Those side deals have not been submitted to Congress. Under the terms of Corker-Cardin, the review period has not started, and does not start until the entire deal is submitted to Congress and the president cannot lift these sanctions until the review period expires.”

Cruz called upon House Majority Leader Mitch McDonnell (R-KY) and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to “simply enforce the terms of Cardin- Corker.”

“The administration has not submitted the deal,” Cruz said. “Accordingly, we should not be voting on a resolution of disapproval.”

The plan initially got traction when it became clear that enough lawmakers had lined up behind Obama’s Iran deal to make it essentially impossible for Republicans to even force him into the embarrassing position of having to veto the disapproval resolution.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) told Politico he was planning to file a motion Tuesday that would require lawmakers to vote on a resolution that would delay the vote disapproving the measure. Members of the House Freedom Caucus met at Tortilla Coast — the favored Capitol Hill haunt of conservative House troublemakers — to discuss the plan Tuesday evening, CQ Roll Call reported.

Under the Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)- Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) compromise hammered out by lawmakers and signed by the President in May, lawmakers had 60 days to consider the deal before voting to approve or disapprove the negotiation. (Or lawmakers alternatively could do nothing and Obama could still implement the deal). It was assumed that the clock began ticking in July soon after the deal had been announced, giving lawmakers a September 17 deadline to weigh in on it.

However, Roskam (pictured above) and other Republicans are arguing that Obama left details of the deal out of the negotiation package he submitted to Congress — the so-called “side deal” between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency — and thus the 60-day review period was never triggered. The theory had also gotten some play in conservative media.

“It’s a very straightforward approach,” Roskam told Politico. “And that is the administration has to comply with the law. Until they comply with the law, the clock doesn’t tick. After the clock ticks there’s a vote. This is not an argument that says this is a bad deal – although I believe it is. This is a process argument.”

Speaking to CQ Roll Call outside Tortilla Coast, conservative members reiterated the logic.

“I think the plan is just to say that there’s a law on Corker-Cardin, it hasn’t been followed, we can’t ignore it, so to continue on with a vote in light of the administration not adhering to the law would be erroneous and really usurp the authority of Congress,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) said.

Congressional leaders are reportedly planning a vote to disapprove the deal on Sept. 11. However, as things stand now, with enough Senate Democrats supporting the deal to filibuster a disapproval vote, the measure rejecting the negotiations package is unlikely to make it to Obama’s desk.

It’s unclear how House leaders will react to Roskam’s plan, or whether — if his resolution passed — it would have any practical effect in thwarting the deal at all. Even if it does extend the PR battle over the deal, a senior GOP aide suggested to CQ Roll Call that the maneuver could also result in Democrats never having to vote on the deal at all.

“On the same day that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz hold a Capitol Hill rally urging Congress to reject this deal, it will be pretty hard to argue that we should let Democrats off the hook and not take a stand at all,” the aide said.

Corker, who negotiated the compromise that allowed Congress to weigh in, was not thrilled with the move to delay the approval vote.

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