The Iran Nuclear deal is likely the most strategically important international agreement in a generation. It is sad then that President Obama and Democrats have opted to turn democracy on its head in an effort to ram it through Congress.
The problem began when Obama insisted it was a “deal,” not a treaty. The U.S. Constitution clearly states that “[t]he President… shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur…” But, as David Sullivan explains in the Washington Times, the Constitution “did not specify which branch could define an international agreement as a “treaty.” Instead, he writes, the Constitution simply assumed that any important international agreement would be a treaty.”
What the Founders likely saw as common sense, President Obama viewed as a constitutional loophole. As Charles Krauthammer writes for National Review:
Obama did not submit it as a treaty because he knew he could never get the constitutionally required votes for ratification. He’s not close to getting two-thirds of the Senate. He’s not close to getting a simple majority. No wonder: In the latest Pew Research Center poll, the American people oppose the deal by a staggering 28-point margin.
To get around the Constitution, Obama negotiated a swindle that requires him to garner a mere one-third of one house of Congress. Indeed, on Thursday, with just 42 Senate supporters — remember, a treaty requires 67 — the Democrats filibustered and prevented, at least for now, the Senate from voting on the deal at all.
Hopefully Democrats understand the risky bet they are taking, because in many ways their political fortunes now rest with the mullahs in Iran.
“This is a deal that will far outlast one administration. The President may have the luxury of vacating office in a few months, but many our our responsibilities extend beyond that,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said. “The American people will remember where we stand today.”
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, for his part, didn’t sound worried. In fact, he seemed to be in a gloating mood.
“[T]oday’s outcome was clear, decisive and final: there is now no doubt whatsoever that the United States Congress will allow the historic agreement to proceed,” Reid said following the Senate vote. “Efforts by opponents to derail this agreement were soundly rejected by a margin much larger than anyone thought achievable as recently as a few days ago.”
Perhaps I’m missing something, but Reid does know that fifty-eight members of the Senate voted against the deal, right? And he does recognize that 269 House members (including 25 Democrats) also rejected the resolution to approve the Iran nuclear deal, right?
Apparently, majorities, much less the super-majorities required by the Constitution simply don’t matter anymore. Sadly, the best Republicans can do at this point appears to be making sure that Democrats answer to voters for their vote. Just today, Speaker John Boehner announced a plan that will require three separate votes.
The first would be a resolution that says President Obama violated the law by not turning over the details to House members as required by bipartisan legislation. Of particular concern is the previously unknown side deals that have turned up between Iran and the IEAA over how the inspection process would work. The second would be a resolution of approval on the nuclear deal – a vote that will require Democrats to affirmatively state their support for Obama’s negotiated deal. And the third would be a resolution to prevent Obama from unilaterally lifting any sanctions on Iran.
Is this a perfect strategy? Far from it. Indeed, it does little to slow the White House’s implementation of a historically bad deal because they can veto anything that comes close to posing a risk. But if nothing else, it can highlight Democrats’ lawlessness and present voters with a stark choice in 2016.