Republican dispute may prevent U.S. Congress vote on Iran deal

Voting was delayed after Republicans said they wanted more information about the deal

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A rebellion by conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives on Wednesday delayed Congress’ first vote on the Iran nuclear agreement and raised the possibility that lawmakers might never vote on a resolution disapproving of the pact.

The House was supposed to vote on a procedural motion to begin debate on Wednesday, but it was put off after some Republicans said they wanted President Barack Obama to provide more information about the deal.

As a result, the Republicans, who control Congress and for weeks had been marching in lockstep in opposition to the nuclear accord, were suddenly battling each other and possibly giving Obama the upper hand.

The dispute arose after announcements on Tuesday that deal supporters had mustered 42 votes in the Senate, more than enough to use the chamber’s procedural rules to block a disapproval resolution.

Late on Wednesday, House Republican leaders developed a plan for three Iran-related votes, none of which would immediately affect the nuclear pact, even though Senate Republicans said they would stick to their original plan to vote on a resolution of disapproval.

One House vote would be on a resolution saying Obama provided too little information to Congress, a second would be to defeat a resolution of approval and a third would be a bid to eliminate Obama’s ability to waive sanctions.

A law Obama signed in May gave Congress a 60-day window, ending on Sept. 17, to vote on the nuclear agreement, between the United States, five other world powers and Tehran.

The law, the Iran Nuclear Review Act, allowed for a resolution of disapproval, which, if passed, would sink the deal, under which Iran gains relief from sanctions in return for curbing its nuclear program. A disapproval resolution would eliminate Obama’s ability to waive many U.S. sanctions on Iran.

A resolution of approval, also allowed under the law, would send a message that many members of Congress are not behind the pact if it were defeated by a large margin. But it would not affect Obama’s ability to waive sanctions.

Obama would be expected to veto the proposed new sanctions measure, if it passed the House and Senate.