Why Paul Ryan vacated a vote to sanction Iran

Story highlights

  • The House voted to bar the President from lifting sanctions on individuals or entities in Iran unless the Administration certifies they are not supporting terror or building weapons -- but the vote was vacated because too many members didn't show up
  • 137 House members missed the vote: 57 Republicans and 80 Democrats

Washington (CNN)When House Speaker Paul Ryan tells members they need to be on time for votes, he means it.

The House technically passed a bill on Wednesday imposing new sanctions on Iran, something many House Republicans critical of the Obama Administration were eager to do. But after a significant block of lawmakers didn't make it to the floor in time to register their support they asked for a do-over. House GOP leaders moved to "vacate" the vote, and got agreement from Democrats, many of whose members also missed the vote.
As a result, roll call vote 44 was wiped away from the official record and rescheduled for the end of January.
    Out of the 137 House members who missed the vote, 57 were Republicans and 80 were Democrats.
    "The speaker made an announcement on the floor last week about keeping vote times closer to the allotted time. While we'll continue to make that a priority, because many members missed this important vote, it was vacated and we'll revote when we return," Ryan spokeswoman Ashlee Strong told CNN.
    The GOP Iran measure would bar the President from lifting sanctions on individuals or entities in Iran unless the Administration certifies they are not supporting terror or building weapons. The vote was scheduled before the developments late on Tuesday in which 10 U.S. Navy sailors were detailed, but during floor debate Republicans pointed to the episode as further proof the bill was needed. Many Democrats agreed Iran was not to be trusted, but argued Congress should come up with a more bipartisan proposal.
    Normally the first vote lasts 15 minutes, but because it is regular practice in the House to hold them open for at least 25-30 minutes, many lawmakers don't rush to make it in time. Ryan's action Wednesday puts members on notice they need to hustle or risk missing a vote, something that potentially opens a member up to political attacks.
    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi defended Ryan's decision. "I think the gaveling was premature, but I think the Speaker is rightfully serious about expeditiously dealing with the votes in a timely fashion," she said Wednesday.