Today, the State Department sent the Obama Administration’s now-infamous Iran nuclear deal to Congress for review. This means that starting now, Congress has 60 days to fully read, analyze, and pass judgment on the bill of goods Obama and Kerry are selling.
Will any of that work matter, though? Maybe not.
The other parties to the agreement with Iran are putting enormous pressure on the Obama Administration to push this deal through the UN before our Congress has the opportunity to either accept or reject its contents. The Administration, in turn, appears to have decided to take away all of the legitimacy of Congressional review by acquiescing to the demands of the international community—and Congress is not happy about it.
Via The Hill:
The battle is uniting Republicans, from conservative firebrand and presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to GOP leadership and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, urged the administration to hold off on the U.N. Security Council vote.
Doing otherwise, Thune said, would show that “the president holds the opinion of the United Nations in higher esteem than the American people.”
The quick move toward the U.N. vote has also angered rank-and-file Republicans, with Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) saying that it makes it seem like the administration “always intended to bypass Congress by moving through the United Nations.”
It’s not just Republicans who are angry at the prospect of being bypassed. Democratic representative Steny Hoyer has voiced his opposition to putting the UN ahead of the legislative branch, as has Sen. Ben Cardin, a ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee and original backer of the congressional review process. Cardin has teamed up with Republican Sen. Bob Corker to formally ask the Administration to hold off, but it’s unclear at this point whether or not the protestations will have any effect.
The White House has been largely non responsive to the protests of its own party, insisting that the UN’s promise to postpone implementation of the deal for 90 days is all the deference Congress should expect. In reality, the Administration has no real practical reason not to ensure the deal makes it through the UN; they had the power to make the agreement, and they’re confident that they’ll be able to veto any opposition.
It’s a risky game, but since when has Barack Obama ever been risk-averse when it comes to messing with the Constitutional balance of power?
Dissing Congress is a risky move for American presidents. There have been widespread reports that many Democrats on Capitol Hill would like to support the President’s Iran policy, but are worried about the political fallout among voters back home. In the end, many of these waverers would probably support the President on the Iran deal in a straight up Congressional vote, but if the President does an end run to the Security Council, the waverers could—and many will—oppose him on procedural grounds. Both the Senate and the House are jealous of their Constitutional prerogatives, and voting to uphold the powers of Congress is a much easier vote for Democrats than voting against the President on an important foreign policy issue.
This is not likely to end well. President Obama was stretching both his Constitutional powers and his political mandate when he decided to short circuit the treaty process for one of the most important decisions that American foreign policy has taken in many years.
The Interest piece goes on to make an important point—that the expansion of executive authority over a period of years has put us in the position we’re in now. By all accounts, a deal of this size and scope should come before Congress in the form of a treaty. Obama, however, knew that he’d never get the 2/3 of the Senate it would take to approve such a treaty, so he pitched and ran with it in the form of an executive-type agreement. The Corker-Melendez agreement will give Congress a voice on the deal, but Obama has promised to veto any actionable opposition.
This is what unilateral action looks like. Even if this were the most perfect deal in the world, I would still agree with the Interest piece’s assertion that this is the wrong way to make sure it gets implemented. This isn’t just about one bill, or one agreement; it’s about future bills and agreements that could (and most likely will) be evaluated within the scope of what Obama has done.
That broadening of executive power could prove to be more dangerous to the United States than a fully nuclear Iran.DONATE
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