“All I think [the vote] sets up is a potential court battle,” Misztal said, adding that, practically, the House votes do not make sense beyond political theater. “If these were agreements the U.S. were a party to and had in its possession and was withholding from Congress, it would make sense here.”
The tactical change came after House Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team were barraged at a morning conference meeting. Members threatened to vote against a rule setting up a vote on a resolution of disapproval of the Iran deal. But members saw that as a losing strategy because they do not have the votes to override a presidential veto.
To assuage members’ concerns, House GOP leaders teed up a new three-pronged approach: In addition to the measure from Pompeo and Rep. Peter Roskam that asserts the administration hasn't sent Congress all the information, leaders also plan to vote on two bills, one banning the administration from lifting sanctions and another registering an up-or-down vote on approval of the deal.
It's not clear any of this would make any substantive difference, as Senate Republican leaders have said they will not bring any of it to their chamber's floor and Democrats have shown no indication of backing away from the administration, meaning Obama still has the votes to sustain a veto (although if a resolution of approval fails the House, Obama would not be faced with vetoing anything).
The Obama administration was dismissive of the House GOP’s contention about the status of the deal.
“Sounds like a plan hatched up at Tortilla Coast on a Tuesday night,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said at Wednesday’s press briefing, referring to the popular restaurant near the Capitol. “I have seen some press reports on the internal Republican strife. Our belief is that Congress, through much debate, set up their own oversight mechanism for this deal. ... And our view has been that according to their own design, they can play the spoiler in this deal, and that would be by passing and, if necessary, overturning a resolution of disapproval.”
In the Senate, Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, who cowrote legislation allowing Congress to take a vote on the deal in the first place, told detractors in the lower chamber to move on.
Corker, who said that he had spoken with several members of the House about the issue, said that he was sympathetic to their complaints. "We don't have all the documents,” he said, echoing House conservative concerns that side agreements to the deal have not yet been released to members of Congress. But, Corker said, “I think the best way to express concern about the documents, but also concern about the deal itself, is to vote to disapprove the deal and to go forward in that manner.”
Corker would not say whether he agreed with House conservatives that because the side agreements to the deal have yet to be presented to Congress, the proverbial clock for the legislative branch to take action on the deal has not yet started. Whether or not that is true, Corker said, Congress must act before Sept. 17. “I'm sure that the president is going to conclude that that's the case [that Sept. 17 is the deadline]. I’m sure that the U.N. Security Council is going to conclude that that’s the case."