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Senate bill gives Congress oversight over Iran nuclear deal

Senate bill gives Congress oversight over Iran nuclear deal

On to the House for approval

Today the Senate passed a bill that would give Congress the authority to review the emerging nuclear deal with Iran. The bill—and the vote—was controversial, with many Republicans arguing against final passage; those who opposed sending the bill to the House argued that it was not strong enough, and would not provide a big enough buffer between the Obama Administration, and a nuclear Iran.

Fox News explains why Senate leadership pushed so hard for the passage of the bill:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the bill “offers the best chance for our constituents through the Congress they elect to weigh in on the White House negotiations with Iran.”

Added Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee: “No bill. No review.”

The legislation would bar Obama from waiving congressional sanctions for at least 30 days while lawmakers examine any final deal. The bill would stipulate that if senators disapprove of the deal, Obama would lose his current power to waive certain economic penalties Congress has imposed on Iran.

The bill would require Congress to pass a resolution of disapproval to reject the deal, an action that Obama almost certainly would veto. Congress then would have to muster votes from two-thirds of each chamber to override the veto.

In the House, about 150 Democrats — enough to sustain a veto — wrote the president to express their strong support for the nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Push they did—and it wasn’t easy. The White House threatened to veto the bill, and a series of amendments sponsored by various Republicans put final passage at risk. One of those amendments—the most controversial, in my opinion, at least as far as the need for bipartisan approval is concerned—would have required Tehran to recognize the right of Israel to exist before any deal could be approved. Some of the amendments (including the Israel amendment) made sense, but had they succeeded, would have scuttled the bill, putting in jeopardy even a slight delay to any nuclear deal the Administration comes up with.

The bill passed 98-1, with only Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton objecting.

In a statement following the bill’s passage Thursday afternoon, Cotton said the Iran deal should be submitted as a treaty requiring a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate.

“President Obama wants to reverse this rule, requiring opponents to get a two-thirds vote to stop his dangerous deal,” Cotton said. “But Congress should not accept this usurpation, nor allow the president any grounds to claim that Congress blessed his nuclear deal. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to stop a dangerous deal that would put Iran on the path to obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Welcome to round 4,576 of “do we pass a backstop, or hold out for a bulletproof vest?”

The bill will now move over to the House; it’s expected to pass there, but there’s no telling what might happen once it hits the President’s desk.


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Ragspierre | May 7, 2015 at 8:12 pm

I agree with Cotton.

Well, and every Constitutional scholar I have any respect for.

Obama never took an oath to wire around the Constitution. Quite the opposite.

    Estragon in reply to Ragspierre. | May 8, 2015 at 12:51 am

    And yet, over 90% of our international agreements in the last 30 years have been executive agreements not ratified by the Senate or even submitted to them, and Obama has made fewer such deals than any President since Reagan.

    Granted, none are on the scale of this deal, but it isn’t a bilateral agreement and the Constitution poses no such requirement. The Senate only gets to ratify what is submitted. In the case of Kyoto, for example, Clinton took the Senate’s advice not to submit it, but committed us to its goals anyway.

    – –

    Which scholars, precisely, say Obama must submit this deal – which he’s always said he would not submit, before talks even began?

    Because all I find are internet blowhards saying that.

    – –

    The fact is the Founders never envisioned the likes of Obama, and failed to take any measures against it.

      tom swift in reply to Estragon. | May 8, 2015 at 2:33 am

      In the case of Kyoto, for example, Clinton took the Senate’s advice not to submit it, but committed us to its goals anyway.

      And what legal force does Clinton’s personal commitment have?

      The treaty has Al Gore’s signature on it, but so what? That makes it legally binding on Al Gore, maybe.

    Milhouse in reply to Ragspierre. | May 8, 2015 at 1:10 am

    Which scholars would those be, exactly? Look, the whole point of the treaty power is that the president plus 2/3 of the senate can bypass the House, and make a law without consulting it. The president plus a majority in each house can do exactly the same. Treaties have the same status as federal laws, except that the president can unilaterally abrogate them. International agreements that are not passed by either both houses or 2/3 of the senate are not laws, but the president is free to obey them if he likes, so long as they don’t contradict any existing laws. He just can’t make anyone else obey them.

    GrumpyOne in reply to Ragspierre. | May 8, 2015 at 10:18 am

    …and I agree with you!

    Whatever happened to Advice and Consent?

    The dumfounded Senate seems to forget the Constitution provides for this and they simply had to do nothing as any “agreement” without 2/3 consent of the Senate does not carry any allowance for enforcement.

    Example: The Memorandum of Understanding signed by multiple nations including Russia and the U.S. regarding the status of Ukraine in the early 1990’s.

    The role that is being played by the Senate surrender monkeys is just plain laughable…

This is disgusting.

I have looked but not found a good explanation of why Cruz voted in favor of this bill.

Get real. This isn’t a “backstop”, this is a surrender hiding behind some lipstick.

It’s designed to let the Dems pretend that the Senate effectively ratified whatever disaster of a treaty Obama concocts.

It will certainly cheer Obama up, though—the Senate is telling him that it will huff and puff a bit, but won’t impede his efforts to go down in history as the father of the Persian atomic bomb.

I don’t know anything about Senator Cotten, but I’m sorry that we don’t have about 99 more just like him.

Republicans are so unbelievably full of shit about this bill that it literally makes me nauseous.

This bill doesn’t let them ‘weigh in’ on jack fucking shit.


With this bill, Obama literally only needs 34 Democrats to vote with him to protect his veto, and he can unilaterally lift sanctions on Iran. Without the bill HE COULD NOT LEGALLY LIFT SANCTIONS.

This bill is complete and total capitulation to whatever trash deal Obama agrees on. Republicans aren’t interested in actually stopping a deal. All they care about is that they can playact about how they’re ‘opposing’ the deal.

    Estragon in reply to Olinser. | May 8, 2015 at 12:52 am

    “he couldn’t legally lift sanctions”

    SO WHAT? We don’t do any business with Iran at all, haven’t since the hostages.

    If the UN Security Council lifts sanctions and Europe, Russia, and China trade with Iran, whatever our Congress does is completely irrelevant, isn’t it?

    Milhouse in reply to Olinser. | May 8, 2015 at 12:59 am


    Um, yeah, he could.

    tom swift in reply to Olinser. | May 8, 2015 at 2:28 am


    Unfortunately, things can happen even if they’re illegal. If he can facilitate shipments of guns to criminals in Mexico, he can do the same for, say, missile guidance systems to Iran.

I’m beginning to wonder if we are going to make it to 2017 in one piece.

Why are both parties hot to trot to stand by and watch Iran get a nuclear arsenal?

I don’t understand what this achieves, except a 30-day delay on any sanctions waiver. The whole bit about Congress being able to pass a bill blocking the waiver, how is that different from now? Congress can always pass any bill it likes, and 0bama can veto it, and 2/3 of each house can override that. It doesn’t need permission to do that. Did Congress really pass a bill saying that Congress can in the future pass a bill?!

This bill is evidence of the terrible weakness of the Republican Senate. All they had to do was to declare that this “agreement” with Iran was a treaty and vote on it’s ratification. If it didn’t get 2/3 of Senate voting for ratification it would be null and void. All Tyrant Obama the Liar would be able to to is cry and throw a temper tantrum.

    tom swift in reply to ConradCA. | May 8, 2015 at 2:25 am

    Well, he can still do rather a lot, since his departments refuse to enforce laws which he’d prefer to ignore. If a law is not going to be enforced, then it really doesn’t matter what the law is or what it is meant to accomplish.

Tar, feathers, rope and split rail — some assembly required.

davidfarrar | May 8, 2015 at 10:32 am

This is yet another example of a complete and utter capitulation by the Senate of its authority and responsibilities, masquerading as a victory by Senate Democrats and their fellow RINO Republicans.

Kathy O'Shea | May 8, 2015 at 12:23 pm

Oh Lord help us!!!