The U.S. Capitol building in Washington. Photo courtesy Architect of the Capitol

The House of Representatives’ symbolic vote Friday to reject the anti-nuclear agreement with Iran divided the San Diego delegation along both party and ideological lines.

Democrats Susan Davis and Scott Peters voted for the agreement, while Democrat Juan Vargas joined Republicans Darryl Issa and Duncan Hunter in voting against it. The 269-162 tally is only symbolic because the Senate does not appear to have enough votes to override a Presidential veto.

The action came on Sept. 11, and members of both parties referred to that tragedy in explaining their votes.

Rep. Juan Vargas. Official photo.

“As horrific as the tragedies of 9/11 were, a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to devastation that could well dwarf the horrors of that day. This agreement is the best way to immediately prevent this from happening for at least 15 years,” said Peters.

“Make no mistake, without this agreement, Iran will build a bomb and we may be forced to again send our sons and daughters to fight another devastating war in the Middle East. With this agreement, we maintain the option of a military strike, but it is not our first, or only option,” added Peters, who with Davis serves on the military-focused House Armed Services Committee.

Vargas joined a group of 25 Democrats who parted ways with President Obama over the deal. He announced in July that he would vote to reject the pact, saying that to him it wasn’t a partisan issue but one of national security.

“Supporters of this agreement believe that relieving sanctions and legitimizing this regime will moderate them,” Vargas said in July. “That didn’t work with North Korea, and it won’t work with Iran.”

Issa argued that Iran remains an “existential threat” to America and its allies.

“I fear the world will pay a terrible price for this President’s failure confront the Iranian problem at this critical moment, and to instead codify a policy of capitulation and appeasement,” Issa said. It is the wrong policy at the wrong time, and we must reject it.”

The agreement with Iran negotiated by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany ends economic sanctions against the Islamic republic in exchange for measures that prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon. President Obama has argued that war is the only alternative to the deal, but it has drawn sharp criticism from Republican lawmakers and the state of Israel, and has divided the American Jewish community.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.