The top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said Iran needs to free 10 U.S. sailors it captured Tuesday, or else the implementation of the nuclear agreement will be threatened.
"I think it endangers everything, I really do," Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the panel's ranking member, told the Washington Examiner.
"I'm outraged, and Iran needs to release these people as soon as possible or else it would be unthinkable or impossible to make further progress with them on anything as far as I am concerned," he said.
The Associated Press reported the Iranian military has seized two U.S. Navy boats with 10 American sailors on board. The sailors are being held on an island in Iranian waters. The Iranian foreign minister has told Secretary of State John Kerry the sailors will be released soon.
The Iran nuclear agreement would lift U.S. sanctions on the Islamic State in exchange for a reduction in its nuclear program. But Iran has already violated a United Nations ban on testing ballistic missiles and remains a major sponsor of terrorism.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said the seizing of the U.S. boats, which Iran said were captured in Iranian waters, will increase pressure on President Obama to abandon the terms of the nuclear deal. King said Democrats as well as Republicans are increasingly wary of the deal.
"This is going to add to it," King said.
King said Iran's taking of the sailors is "open defiance of the U.S." and a "direct shot at the president," taken purposely on the day he is to deliver his final State of the Union address. But Congress has no power to break the deal.
Still, King called on Obama to walk away from it.
"I think we should suspend the agreement," King said. "Don't turn over the funds at all."
The House is scheduled to vote Wednesday on legislation that would preserve economic sanctions against Iran that are to be lifted as part of the nuclear agreement.
The bill is poised to pass with mostly Republican support, but is not on the schedule in the Senate and is guaranteed to earn a presidential veto.
Engel said he won't back the GOP sanctions bill because it changes the terms of the nuclear agreement, which Congress failed to block last year.
"I'm not interested in poking the president in the eye," said Engel, who opposed the nuclear deal.
Engel said he is working on a bill that would sanction Iran if it violates the terms of the nuclear deal. The bill would also include resources to bolster Israel's defense system, he said.