Washington (CNN)The No. 3 House Republican leader said Wednesday that he doesn't believe that a bill to ease any sanctions on Iran could pass the House or Senate.
House GOP leader: Votes aren't there to ease Iran sanctions
"The sanctions that were put in place — again, very bipartisan sanctions passed by Congress years ago that were effective — the only way to get rid of them completely would be for Congress to vote to ease those sanctions. We haven't had that vote. I don't see that passing out of the House. I don't even think it would pass out of the Senate right now," Louisiana GOP Rep. Steve Scalise said in a radio interview with WWL in New Orleans.
The Iran deal framework that the Obama Administration unveiled last week includes the easing of U.S. and U.N. sanctions on the nation if it takes certain steps to curb its nuclear program. President Barack Obama does have the power to ease the sanctions somewhat unilaterally, but, as Scalise noted, a significant rollback would require congressional approval.
The Louisiana Republican said later in the interview that sanctions should remain in place until Iran denounces terrorism, stops threatening Israel and completely dismantles their nuclear program — a condition Obama has said is unrealistic and unattainable.
Scalise, who, as the GOP whip is in charge of counting votes, said that he would "surely not support this deal as I've seen it" — but emphasized that he believes "strongly" Congress should have a role in approving any final deal.
He added that the U.S. "shouldn't do nothing" about Iran's nuclear program, but said that "we need to keep the pressure up."
Scalise alleged that the under the framework presented by the administration last week, Iran would still be less than a year from developing a nuclear weapon. The framework extended the "breakout time," or the time needed for Iran to produce enough fissile material to create a bomb, to one year, and administration officials have said that's ample time for international inspectors to take notice and take action to prevent such an outcome.
But the Louisiana Republican argued that the deal as it stands "would start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, and that's the last thing we want to see happen."