House Republicans Friday slammed the Iran nuclear deal after they voted it down and blocked President Barack Obama from lifting sanctions against Tehran, saying the deal would empower the world's largest sponsor of terrorism and endanger the future of both the United States and Israel.
"Iran can't be trusted," said Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon after lawmakers voted 269-162 to oppose the deal. No Republicans backed the accord, while 25 Democrats broke with Obama to reject it. "This has been made clear time and time again. Yet this agreement is founded on trusting Iran."
"The benefits afforded Iran will enable them to, with our approval, construct new weapons, fund their well-known terrorist allies, and continue to menace Israel, one of our closest allies and the only democratic government in the Middle East," Salmon said.
Ohio Rep. Mike Turner said that he was "perplexed as to how any member of Congress can vote in good faith knowing there are secret side agreements to this deal. The president is seeking approval of a deal that largely remains hidden from the public."
Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry said that he talked with constituents from his North Carolina district and visited Jerusalem since the deal was presented to Congress in July.
"Each conversation, from Hickory to Jerusalem, left me no doubt this deal must be stopped." McHenry said. "Yesterday, President Obama called this deal 'a victory for diplomacy, American security, and the safety and security of the world.'"
"Mr. President, this couldn't be further from the truth."
Besides voting to reject the deal, the House also approved another resolution that would prevent Obama from releasing billions of dollars that had been held up through five years of crippling sanctions.
The votes, though considered largely symbolic, were part of an effort by Republicans to underscore their objections despite a Democratic move on Thursday in the Senate that blocked
a GOP-led effort to kill the deal by passing a resolution of disapproval.
The July 14 agreement — between the United States, five other world powers and Iran — is expected to pump as much as $150 billion into Tehran's economy in exchange for curbs on its nuclear arsenal.
The accord was opposed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told Congress in March that it was a threat to his country's existence.
"As we consider this nuclear agreement with Iran, it is our duty to determine whether it will keep America safe," House Speaker John Boehner cautioned before the two votes.
"Sadly, this deal is far worse than anything I could have imagined," Boehner added. "Why? Because the president and his negotiators broke every one of their promises."
After a rebellion by conservative Republicans, Boehner and other party leaders abandoned plans for a House vote on a disapproval resolution, opting for votes on three measures to send a stronger message that a majority of Congress objects to the pact.
Republicans throughout the process accused Democrats of blindly supporting President Obama in an agreement that they saw as going too far in easing economic sanctions on Iran in return for too few concessions on its nuclear program.
In turn, Democrats charged Republicans with leaping to reject the deal and ignoring U.S. allies and international experts who back it. Some also accused Republicans of politicizing the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by holding the votes on that date.
"I am encouraged that House Republicans and principled Democrats voted against approval of the deal and to pass other measures requiring the president to provide information regarding every aspect of the deal negotiated with Iran," said Oklahoma GOP Rep. Tom Cole.
"If this deal is implemented, it will almost certainly lead to a nuclear-capable Iran in the near future," he added. "While the president insists on trusting this dangerous state sponsor of terrorism, he is recklessly jeopardizing the safety and security of America and our allies."
Reuters contributed to this report.
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