Ahead of Iran deal debate, GOP makes last stand

Congress returns from its August recess next week with a full plate -- including a vote to approve the president's nuclear deal with Iran.

But before debate begins on the Iran resolution, Republicans are making a last push against the deal, calling it "very dangerous" and saying "it will make America, and the rest of the civilized world, less safe."

"What's at stake here is nothing less than the possibility of giving hundreds of billions of dollars to the world's largest and worst state sponsor of terrorism and ultimately paving the way for this outlaw regime to obtain nuclear weapons," Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, said in a video released Saturday.

Toomey warned that the deal would also "make military conflict more likely, not less."

"This massive cash infusion to the Iranian terrorist machine will cause untold destruction and misery throughout the Middle East and potentially to Americans," the Pennsylvania Republican added. "The deal jeopardizes American security in a fundamental way. Like all of the radical Islamic terror movements, if Iran is able to inflict harm on Americans, it will do so."

Congress will vote later this month on a resolution disapproving of the agreement, which lifts economic sanctions on Tehran in exchange for scaling down the country's nuclear program.

Toomey added that there is "growing bipartisan consensus against the deal," pointing to Democratic senators and House members who have said they oppose it.

Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said Friday that he would not support the deal. He joins two other Democrats -- including New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer -- who have declared that they would not put their weight behind the agreement negotiated by the U.S. and five other world powers with Iran.

Supporters of the agreement, however, have a significant advantage over those who oppose it: the numbers in Congress. On Wednesday, Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland pledged her support for the Iran deal, making her the 34th Democrat to do so. Even if the bill passes in Congress -- a likely scenario given the Republican majorities in both houses -- Mikulski's vote means Republicans won't have enough senators to override a presidential veto.

Toomey, however, remained optimistic that "it's not too late to save America from this disaster."

The president's focus has also shifted to Congress' week ahead.

In his own video, President Obama rebuked Congress for its slow start to passing a federal budget, cautioning lawmakers that one of their chief obligations upon their return was to keep the government solvent.

"As always, the deadline for Congress to pass a budget is the end of September - every year," the president said. "This is not new."

If Congress doesn't pass a budget through both houses, the president warned "they'll shut down the government for the second time in two years."

"At a time when the global economy faces headwinds and America's economy is a relative bright spot in the world, a shutdown of our government would be wildly irresponsible," Mr. Obama added. "It would be an unforced error that saps the momentum we've worked so hard to build."

But the president also said that the budget should not be one peppered with "shortsighted sequester cuts." He threatened once again that he would veto such a budget.

This isn't the first time Mr. Obama has grown frustrated with Congress over the federal budget. In July, he scolded the legislative body just as it passed a last-minute extension to a highway funding bill.

"We should not be leaving all the business of the U.S. government to the last minute," Mr. Obama said at the end of July. "Congress is leaving on vacation without the budget done. And when they get back, they're going to have about two weeks in order to do the people's business."

Congress will resume its regular session Tuesday.