TOPEKA — On Thursday, congressional opponents of a nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran failed to pass a resolution of disapproval as a deadline to do so came and went, seemingly ending a months-long debate on the divisive agreement.
However, outspoken critics of the agreement in the Kansas delegation aren’t yet willing to let the deal sail softly into the annals of diplomatic history.
“It’s far from over,” Rep. Mike Pompeo said Friday.
There is significant support from the delegation for taking legal action against President Barack Obama in an attempt to stop the Obama administration from lifting sanctions on the longtime American foe.
The legal threats hinge on the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which was signed into law by Obama in May. The legislation dictates the administration allow Congress to see the nuclear deal, hold hearings on it, and pass a motion of disapproval before Sept. 17.
However, two portions of the agreement have remained confidential. The so-called side deals weren’t included in the agreement presented to Congress, leading Pompeo and other critics to argue Obama has violated the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.
“I think this administration knew the inspections were going to be inadequate so they couldn’t put them in writing, at least not writing members of Congress could see,” said Pompeo.
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, has suggested he would be open to taking legal action against the president in an attempt to stop the Iran deal. In recent years, the House has filed suit to halt the president’s actions on immigration and employer mandates in the Affordable Care Act.
On Sept. 10, the House passed a resolution sponsored by Pompeo stating Obama hasn’t disclosed the side deals. The resolution passed strictly along party lines, with only Republicans voting in favor.
In addition to Pompeo, two other House members from Kansas said Friday that they would be open to the possibility of legal action. CJ Grover, a spokesman for Rep. Kevin Yoder, said the congressman was in favor of suing the president and Tom Brandt, a spokesman for Rep. Lynn Jenkins, signaled the same.
“Congresswoman Jenkins is open to any alternatives that would stop this disastrous Iran deal from moving forward,” Brandt said. “This includes ensuring over $100 billion doesn’t flow into the hands of the Iranian regime through the president’s removal of sanctions.”
Sanctions present another opportunity for Congress to stall implementation of the nuclear accord. While sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program will be lifted when the deal is finalized, Congress could pursue other penalties on the Middle East nation.
“We’ll continue to make the case and create opportunities for the next president, whoever that is, to punish the world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” Pompeo said.
Legislative attempts to economically harm Iran, however, will likely fail to overcome the 60-vote hurdle in the Senate that has prevented critics of the Iran deal from passing a resolution of disapproval this month.
As a result, debates over the accord have prompted many in the Kansas delegation to support changing the Senate’s rules.
“The time has come to consider this issue of how the filibuster works,” Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican, said in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday. “And it is because this issue is so important and the outcome of this debate so valuable to the future of our country and the security of the world that, in this case, we need to move forward with a majority vote to allow this agreement to be rejected.”
Yoder made the case for filibuster reform at a town hall in Olathe last month. Jenkins and Pompeo both said this week that the Senate should reform its rules to end the 60-vote requirement.
“This is not the democracy envisioned by our forefathers,” Jenkins said in a statement. “It is not a decision to be taken lightly, but I believe Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must act swiftly and decisively to end the 60 vote requirement needed to break the filibuster.”