Republican leaders deride Iran deal ahead of key briefing

Republican leaders deride Iran deal ahead of key briefing
© Francis Rivera

House GOP leaders dug in their heels Wednesday, expressing grave concerns about the Iran nuclear deal ahead of a crucial closed-door briefing on the accord.

While the agreement struck by President Obama “may have been applauded at the United Nations, I think he faces serious skepticism here at home,” Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbyists race to cash in on cannabis boom Rising star Ratcliffe faces battle to become Trump's intel chief This little engine delivers results for DC children MORE (R-Ohio) told reporters after a GOP conference meeting.

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“Let me just assure you that members of Congress will ask much tougher questions this afternoon when we meet with the president’s team,” he added. “Because a bad deal threatens the security of the American people and we’re going to do everything possible to stop it.” 

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbyists race to cash in on cannabis boom Rising star Ratcliffe faces battle to become Trump's intel chief This little engine delivers results for DC children MORE sidestepped a question about comments by Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTwo-thirds of Republicans support 'red flag' gun laws: NPR poll Red flag laws won't stop mass shootings — ending gun-free zones will Pelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid MORE (R-S.C.), a 2016 presidential candidate, that the GOP's concerns about the deal are being drowned out by Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFacebook releases audit on conservative bias claims Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Recessions happen when presidents overlook key problems MORE's run for the White House.

"I'll let Lindsey's words speak for themselves," Boehner said.

“I continue to see more concerns on our side and the other side of the aisle,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said.

He cited comments from Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezPelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid House passes temporary immigration protections for Venezuelans Senate panel advances bipartisan bill to lower drug prices amid GOP blowback MORE (N.J.), the deal’s most vocal Democratic critic, that the accord "preserves" Iran's nuclear program and a Washington Post/ABC News poll from Monday that found 64 percent of respondents are not confident the deal will prevent a nuclear Iran.

“Of all the issues we have before us, this is the most critical,” according to McCarthy. “We have to get this right because the world will never be the same.”

Boehner made the remarks hours before Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryA lesson of the Trump, Tlaib, Omar, Netanyahu affair Trump's winning weapon: Time The Memo: O'Rourke looks to hit reset button MORE, Energy Secretary Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizBiden under pressure from environmentalists on climate plan Pelosi, Clinton among attendees at memorial reception for Ellen Tauscher 2020 is the Democrats' to lose — and they very well may MORE and Treasury Secretary Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewHogan urges Mnuchin to reconsider delay of Harriet Tubman bill Mnuchin says new Harriet Tubman bill delayed until 2028 Overnight Finance: US reaches deal with ZTE | Lawmakers look to block it | Trump blasts Macron, Trudeau ahead of G-7 | Mexico files WTO complaint MORE are due to give a classified briefing on the deal to the entire House.

The session could prove an early make-or-break point for the administration’s two-month lobbying effort to sell the agreement to a skeptical Congress. 

Republicans have vowed to vote against the deal, and many Democrats remain on the fence. If the White House’s sales job stumbles out of the gate, it could boost the chances of Congress overcoming a presidential veto to reject the deal.

McCarthy said he’s looking “forward to questions, but more importantly I look forward to the answers” in today’s hearing.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) predicted debate over the deal would continue through lawmakers' August recess.

He also singled out a measure in the deal that gives Tehran 24 days to address concerns about sites suspected of nuclear activity and agree to inspections, saying the provision was “applauded" in Iran.

--This report was updated at 11:51 a.m.