Obama’s End Run Around Congress
He doesn’t want a congressional vote on his Iran deal.
A nuclear deal with Iran is just around the corner, and it won’t be good for U.S. national security. The biggest clue is that Barack Obama wants an end run around Congress, likely opting instead for UN approval. To reach such a significant arms-control deal without congressional approval would be unprecedented.
The Obama administration expressed phony outrage over the “traitorous” open letter 47 Senate Republicans wrote to Iran, but these senators were merely stating the obvious: A deal struck without Congress isn’t legally binding beyond the current administration. Even the administration admits the deal is “nonbinding.” The only problem with the letter was that it should have been addressed to Obama, who is plotting to avoid the Senate entirely. Instead, Obama may seek approval from the UN Security Council, which would almost certainly prompt Russia, China and Europe to end their sanctions against Iran. That would leave any residual U.S. sanctions essentially toothless.
As early as March 25, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) plans to push legislation asserting Congress’ role in approving any nuclear agreement, as well as a voice on continuing or ending sanctions. March 24 is the administration’s rough deadline for outlining a deal, which it’s being careful not to call a “treaty” so as to better circumvent Congress. Corker’s bill wouldn’t press the “treaty” angle; it would just ensure Congress has a say.
Former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman advocated Corker’s approach in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, writing, “The essence of any deal would relieve the Iranians from such sanctions in exchange for certain restrictions on their nuclear activities. The sanctions under negotiation, however, are overwhelmingly the creation of Congress – put in law through bills passed by large bipartisan majorities. Given that Congress built the sanctions against Iran, it is unreasonable to bar it from any review or oversight in how that architecture is disassembled.”
Yet Obama has been directly pressuring Democrat senators against supporting Corker’s legislation, as well as promising a veto. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough wrote a letter to Congress last weekend warning that legislation would “likely have a profoundly negative impact on the ongoing negotiations – emboldening Iranian hard-liners, inviting a counter-productive response from the Iranian majiles; differentiating the U.S. position from our allies in negotiations; and once again calling into question our ability to negotiate this deal.”
We absolutely call into question Obama’s ability to negotiate this flawed deal. It’s why Republicans wrote their letter. It’s why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave his speech to Congress. And it’s why Netanyahu handily won re-election Tuesday.
Over the years, Obama repeatedly expressed how important it is to “prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.” But his crack negotiation team, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, isn’t exactly moving toward that goal. Perhaps that’s why by the end of February Obama was talking about merely trying to “reduce the possibility of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon [emphasis added].”
On top of that softened rhetoric, Obama’s intelligence community’s 2015 Worldwide Threat Assessment removes both Iran and its terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, from the subsection on terrorism. Coincidence? Hardly. Yet this happened while Iran is gaining increasing hegemony in the region via its fight against ISIL – to the point that Saudi Arabia is considering its own nuclear arrangement as a counterbalance. So much for non-proliferation.
Obama wants Congress to wait at least until summer to weigh in. McDonough pleaded, “Let us complete the negotiations before the Congress acts on legislation. If we successfully negotiate a framework by the end of this month, and a final deal by the end of June, we expect a robust debate in Congress.” That is, unless Obama’s planned end run around Congress succeeds.
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