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House Leadership to Ban Lawmakers from Amending Key Iran Bill

Senate version also brought to vote without amendments

AP
• May 14, 2015 5:00 am

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House leadership will not permit lawmakers to offer amendments aimed at strengthening a key piece of legislation that would provide Congress with oversight over any nuclear deal the Obama administration strikes with Iran, according to Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.).

DeSantis had been planning to offer several amendments to the legislation aimed at forcing Iran to disclose all of its nuclear-related work and provide international inspectors with access to all military sites.

However, House leadership is planning to suspend normal rules and bring the bill to an immediate vote, preventing lawmakers such as DeSantis from altering the bill.

A Senate version of the legislation—which would provide Congress with the ability to cast an up-or-down vote on any Iran deal—overwhelmingly passed last week in a 98-1 vote. That version of the bill, authored by Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), was also brought to a vote without amendments, despite multiple efforts by leading senators.

The suspension of normal protocol in both legislative chambers has caused frustration among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and stoked tensions with Republican leadership.

"I’m almost certain we’ll have the Iran bill put up with zero amendments voted on at all," DeSantis told the Washington Free Beacon during an interview on Wednesday. "It will basically be rubber stamping the Senate’s bill and moving on."

"I think people are frustrated," DeSantis said. "We haven’t had a lot of debate on Iran generally."

"It’s disappointing," he added. "A lot of us are really concerned with what Iran is getting out of this agreement."

"Juxtaposing [Iran’s continued support for terrorism] no accountability [under the deal] and a $50 billion signing bonus is just not right," he said. "I think [the deal] will be met with overwhelming disappointment from the American people."

In the Senate, vocal Iran critics such as Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), among others, sought to amend the legislation in order to apply more pressure to Iran.

These senators sought to include measures that would force Iran to shut down its entire nuclear program before receiving any economic relief. Other amendments would have compelled Iran to recognize the state of Israel as part of any deal.

In the House, DeSantis was preparing to offer at least five amendments to the bill.

One would require the Obama administration to provide Congress with a classified and unclassified readout of the entire negotiation record with Iran. Another would require Iran to provide international inspectors with full access to all military sites, a demand Iran has rejected.

DeSantis also was seeking to force Iran to pay reparations for all U.S. military members who have been killed or injured in Iraq as a result of rogue Iranian action there.

DeSantis said such measures are critical to expanding the debate on Iran and putting members on the record on these contentious issues.

"We want to put people on the record, but that doesn’t seem to be what’s going to happen," he said. "There are a lot of folks who wanted to have some votes and have the debate. It’s the most important foreign policy issue we have in our country right now."

However, Republican leadership in Congress is hesitant to permit these amendments because they fear getting blamed for detonating any deal that Obama administration might reach, DeSantis said.

"The leadership realized they don’t need to offer amendments to pass this overwhelmingly," DeSantis added. "They felt that if we were to add some strong language and send it back to the Senate, they’re not sure what would happen with that. But it would be good to force some of these senators to take some tough votes."

"It would really be enlightening for the public to see where their member of Congress is coming out on these [measures]," he said.

Published under: Iran, Nuclear Weapons, Sanctions