In that time, the deal’s Republican opponents, declaring they would not be bound by the 60-day congressional review period that expired Sept. 17, have threatened to push back against the deal in a variety of ways.
The House passed a series of measures to leverage and delay the rollback of sanctions, and even threatened a lawsuit. Senators warned they would, against the administration’s wishes, move early on reauthorizing the spectrum of Iran sanctions that come under Congress’ purview. Before the deal was passed, a chorus of GOP figures even clamored for senators to use the “nuclear option” and pass a resolution to disapprove of it – if only to force President Obama to stamp out the opposition with his veto pen.
But thus far, none of those efforts have stuck.
Deal opponents continue to voice their discontent, pen letters to the administration about their concerns, and exercise their oversight authority – but the promised silver bullet to eviscerate, or even hamstring, the Iran deal has yet to materialize.
In a sense, the failure of such frustrations to coalesce makes sense: The deal’s GOP critics in the House, where a majority can carry a measure against the administration’s position, are distracted. The Republican conference there was beset by a succession crisis in the last few weeks, sparked by House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) resignation announcement, just a week after the Iran deal deadline passed.
In the Senate, meanwhile, GOP lawmakers – most of whom were circumspect about the long-term implications of blowing up the filibuster to score a temporary win on the Iran deal – spent much of the last month hashing through the opening rounds of a budget battle that is set for a deeper reckoning this December.
Going forward, the congressional schedule suggests that staging a groundswell of Iran-deal ending opposition will prove equally, if not more, difficult. Not only will the deal be affected by the momentum behind adoption day implementation, but Congress’s to-do list is long: The House must resolve questions about its leadership, the Senate is aiming to complete cyber security legislation, and both chambers must confront the looming debt limit (start of November) and budget deadlines (Dec. 11).
But that doesn’t mean that lawmakers are giving up their opposition.
The flames of frustration with the deal were fanned again this week, as lawmakers learned of Iran’s test launch of a ballistic missile.
“It is especially troubling that this test occurred on the heels of the Iranian Parliament’s approval of the” Iran deal, a bipartisan group of Senate Foreign Relations Committee lawmakers, led by chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), wrote in a letter to the administration this week, challenging the president to respond to an act the administration believes violated Iran’s obligations under U.N. resolutions.
The White House maintains, however, that the incident is completely separate from the nuclear deal’s parameters.
But that isn’t sitting well with Iran’s GOP critics, many of whom still suspect that the battery of Iran sanctions that would be lifted under the deal go too far. These foes believe the deal was at least an indicator to the Iranians that infractions would be tolerated at the margins.
“The ink isn’t even dry on President Obama’s nuclear agreement and Iran is already breaking the rules,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), who also signed Corker’s letter. “There is no doubt they [the Iranians] will continue to ignore the international community and behave like a rogue nation even after President Obama’s dangerous deal is put in place.”