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Publius / May 8, 2015

Senate Surrenders to Obama on Iran

Now required: Two-thirds majority to reject a nuclear deal.

The Senate voted 98-1 Thursday to approve a bill giving Congress 30 days to examine the pending nuclear deal with Iran and to express its disapproval through the resolution process. Tom Cotton (R-AR) was the lone opposing vote, a symbolic gesture of protest that the bill was not crafted more strongly. The bill, authored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN), says nothing about Iran’s continued sponsorship of terrorism, for example, or its refusal to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. Yet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the bill “worthy of our support,” claiming it “offers the best chance we have to provide the American people and the Congress they elect with power to weigh in on a vital issue.”

Unfortunately, it’s just the opposite. Instead of the constitutionally required two-thirds majority to approve a treaty, this bill means Barack Obama’s deal-that’s-not-a-treaty will a require two-thirds majority to reject it.

One of the issues is U.S. sanctions on Iran put in place by Congress, as opposed to other sanctions put in place by executive order or by the UN Security Council. Republican senators, led by Cotton, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, want to prevent Obama from giving away the farm by removing all U.S. sanctions as soon as a nuclear deal is signed. Obama has repeatedly claimed sanctions can “snap back” if Iran is found to be cheating and that he has the authority to remove all U.S. sanctions — including those passed by Congress — with a wave of his hand. Court jester Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew recently advanced that argument in a speech before the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, claiming both U.S. and international sanctions could be reinstated quickly, and without serial miscreants China or Russia being able to veto such a move.

And speaking of a veto, 150 congressional Democrats sent a letter to Obama Thursday making clear they would support him if he vetoed a congressional resolution disapproving the nuclear deal. With enough Democrat signatures to guarantee a presidential veto would stand, the letter virtually preempts any significant action by Congress to stop Obama from throwing away the most effective tool the world has in forcing Iran to meet its Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations. It’s also yet another example that Obama and his friends in Congress are so desperate to get a deal that they are willing to accept even a very bad one.

Still, we remain guardedly optimistic that the June 30 deadline will not yield a final agreement, as Iran has consistently and emphatically rejected the requirement for unfettered, intrusive inspections, without which no deal is possible. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has also demanded repeatedly that all sanctions be dropped permanently the moment a deal is signed, something we still hope even Obama and his sycophants won’t accept. But it remains one of the most sorry spectacles in recent memory to see the leader of the free world and his fellow travelers in Congress working so hard to ensure the world’s number-one sponsor of terror is rewarded, not punished, for its intransigence.

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