The US Congress will disapprove the Iran deal when it votes on the matter by September 17, and may even be able to override a presidential veto on the matter, Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy predicted as he spoke with reporters in Jerusalem on Thursday.
“I do not know if the Democrats have whipped this vote [trying to enforce party discipline],” McCarthy said, adding, “We [Republicans] have not whipped the vote either.”
McCarthy added that he was not aware of any Republicans that intended supporting the nuclear agreement, stating that “I have watched a number of Democrats oppose it.”
The California congressman spoke of his party’s opposition to the deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program that was concluded between Tehran and the six world powers in Vienna last month.
Democrat supporters of the deal and the Obama administration, including US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, are already speaking about the day after the deal is set in motion.
McCarthy had an entirely different take on the future of the Iran deal, however.
“It will go to the president’s desk with a [congressional] disapproval, that is very safe to say,” McCarthy said as he explained that the real question is whether there is enough opposition to prevent US President Barack Obama from vetoing the congressional vote.
“There is a possibly that if [Obama] vetoes it, it will be overridden [by Congress],” McCarthy said.
The high-ranking politician is in Israel along with 35 other visiting Republican congressmen. They arrived as House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer wrapped up his visit along with 23 Democratic congressmen.
Both trips were sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, which is affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a group that traditionally funds such trips during the summer.
This year, in light of the upcoming US vote on the Iran deal, both groups focused heavily on learning more about Israeli viewpoints on the accord, while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict took a back seat.
McCarthy said that opposition to the deal transcends US party politics, saying that there is a bipartisan belief, he said, that “a much better deal can be achieved.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has been outspoken about his belief that the Iran deal is a historic mistake, was uncharacteristically quiet after meeting with McCarthy’s delegation on Wednesday and with Hoyer’s group on Sunday.
On Sunday, Obama told CNN that Netanyahu has interjected himself into the dialogue of Washington politics more forcibly than any other foreign leader.
On Thursday, however, McCarthy rebuffed the US president, said that Netanyahu was simply doing his job as Israel’s leader.
“I do not see where Benjamin Netanyahu was interfering with anything,” said McCarthy, just one day after he and 35 other visiting Republican congressmen met with the prime minister.
Given “everything I have seen from Iran, their policies have not changed,” he said, adding that Iran has only increased its funding of terrorist organizations.
“One of the biggest concerns is the billions more Iran would have [with the deal] what will they do with it, who would fund it,” the congressman warned.
In the past Obama urged critics to quell their voices until they knew the details. Now that the information is known, he has warned that the only alternative is war.
Obama, McCarthy said, is spinning out lines that are not true, such as, “it is only this deal or war.” “No one believes this to be true,” he said.
McCarthy said he believed that it was possible to achieve a better agreement with Iran and that the choice was between a bad deal and a better deal.
A better deal would not allow Iran to have nuclear capability within 13 years, he said.
“If we are trying to capture peace, we are measuring it in a 13-year-old time frame,” McCarthy said as he tried to explain what 13 years meant to him.
“My wife and I have a son and a daughter. They have a life time in front of them. I will not walk away and make the world more unsafe and more dangerous because I wanted someone to say we captured peace for this moment but jeopardized freedom for the future.”
With regard to the US-Israel relationship, McCarthy said that he did not believe the public spat between Netanyahu and Obama would harm those ties.
“These are two personalities. The bond between Israel and America is a bond that does not break over personalities.”
Rather, it’s a bond that is created by the shared values of justice, liberty, freedom and democracy, McCarthy said.