Corker-Menendez passes Senate Foreign Relations Committee 19-0, but it's not all it's cracked up to bepassed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday afternoon, and now there are even indications that President Hussein Obama will sign the bill (Hat Tip: Memeorandum). However, conservatives argue that Obama will still have free reign over what happens with a deal with Iran, and some are even calling Corker a traitor. This is from the first link.
The panel voted 19-0 to approve legislation worked out between Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, who took over as ranking Democrat after Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey was indicted on federal corruption charges. Menendez was co-author of the legislation with Corker.
The deal shortened the congressional review period for any agreement from 60 days to 30 days and eliminated a requirement that the president periodically certify that Iran is keeping to the terms of any agreement and "has not directly supported or carried out an act of terrorism against the United States, or a United States person anywhere in the world."
That provision was replaced by one requiring periodic reporting on Iran's support of terrorism. Another provision aimed at soothing Republican concerns would require the president to certify that any deal would not harm Israel's security, replacing a bid by some GOP members to require Iran to accept the Jewish state's right to exist as part of any agreement.
The compromise makes clear that Obama can waive U.S. sanctions if Congress approves a nuclear deal or if it fails to act.The Wall Street Journal points out that the nuclear deal is still Obama's one-man deal - he will continue to have free reign over it.
As late as Tuesday morning, Secretary of State John Kerry was still railing in private against the bill. But the White House finally conceded when passage with a veto-proof majority seemed inevitable. The bill will now pass easily on the floor, and if Mr. Obama’s follows his form, he will soon talk about the bill as if it was his idea.
Mr. Obama can still do whatever he wants on Iran as long as he maintains Democratic support. A majority could offer a resolution of disapproval, but that could be filibustered by Democrats and vetoed by the President. As few as 41 Senate Democrats could thus vote to prevent it from ever getting to President Obama’s desk—and 34 could sustain a veto. Mr. Obama could then declare that Congress had its say and “approved” the Iran deal even if a majority in the House and Senate voted to oppose it.My friend Noah Pollak is disappointed.
The way Corker & Graham wrote their bill, Obama will win Congressional approval of Iran deal with only 34 votes. Ponder that.And the Tea Partiers are furious.
— Noah Pollak (@NoahPollak) April 14, 2015
Traitor is strong language, but in the aftermath of Tuesday’s vote on a bill that was supposed to reaffirm the Senate’s constitutional power to consent to President Obama’s as yet still undefined and undisclosed nuclear treaty with Iran there is no other way to describe the actions of Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
The bill Corker rammed through the Foreign Relations Committee is worse than no bill at all.
What Corker’s bill does is, in its post-markup form, require the president to submit for congressional review the final nuclear agreement reached between Iran, the U.S. and its five negotiating partners. The bill does maintain the prohibition on the president waiving congressionally enacted sanctions against Iran during the review period.
However, the review period in the measure has been shortened from 60 days to an initial 30 days. If, at the end of the 30 days, Congress were to pass a bill on sanctions relief and send it to the president, an additional 12 days would be automatically added to the review period. This could be another 10 days of review if the president vetoed the resulting sanctions bill.
Corker’s legislation in effect lowers the threshold for approving the Iran deal from 67 votes to 41 – a craven betrayed of the Senate’s constitutional role as the final word on whether or not the United States agrees to a treaty.
More importantly, Corker betrayed American interests and the interests of our allies in the greater Middle East; from Israel, to Saudi Arabia, to India no nation now within the range of Iran’s fast growing missile technology is secure from the threat of a nuclear armed Islamist Iran.
And make no mistake – it is the combination of Iran’s expansionist Islamism and nuclear weapons technology that is the threat.
The “growing support” for Senator Corker’s information, was not for him to cave-in to Obama, but for the Senate to exercise its real constitutional role in the approval – or disapproval – of Obama’s treaty to legitimize Iran’s nuclear weapons program. And that means “advice” while the treaty is negotiated and “consent” after the President concludes the agreement.
Bob Corker has betrayed that constitutional principle and the world will be a much more dangerous place for his inexplicable failure to grasp the existential threat a nuclear armed Islamic Republic of Iran poses to the United States and in that willful blindness he has in effect betrayed all peoples who share the values of freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and freedom of speech and will be threatened by a nuclear armed Islamic Republic of Iran.The Wall Street Journal argues that Corker had no choice.
Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker deserves credit for trying, but in the end he had to agree to Democratic changes watering down the measure if he wanted 67 votes to override an Obama veto. Twice the Tennessee Republican delayed a vote in deference to Democrats, though his bill merely requires a vote after the negotiations are over.It also has a more nuanced take on what ought to happen.
Our own view of all this is closer to that of Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who spoke for (but didn’t offer) an amendment in committee Tuesday to require that Mr. Obama submit the Iran nuclear deal as a treaty. Under the Constitution, ratification would require an affirmative vote by two-thirds of the Senate.
Committing the U.S. to a deal of this magnitude—concerning proliferation of the world’s most destructive weapons—should require treaty ratification. Previous Presidents from JFK to Nixon to Reagan and George H.W. Bush submitted nuclear pacts as treaties. Even Mr. Obama submitted the U.S.-Russian New Start accord as a treaty.
The Founders required two-thirds approval on treaties because they wanted major national commitments overseas to have a national political consensus. Mr. Obama should want the same kind of consensus on Iran.
But instead he is giving more authority over American commitments to the United Nations than to the U.S. Congress. By making the accord an executive agreement as opposed to a treaty, and perhaps relying on a filibuster or veto to overcome Congressional opposition, he’s turning the deal into a one-man presidential compact with Iran. This will make it vulnerable to being rejected by the next President, as some of the GOP candidates are already promising.
The case for the Corker bill is that at least it guarantees some debate and a vote in Congress on an Iran deal. Mr. Obama can probably do what he wants anyway, but the Iranians are on notice that the United States isn’t run by a single Supreme Leader.Well yes, unless the next President is - God Forbid - Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren.
The Tea Party also has criticism of other Senators.
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), at the request of Corker, agreed to withdraw an amendment to provide compensation for American victims of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis from fees collected for violations of Iran sanctions.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who planned to introduce an amendment that would have required the president to certify to Congress that Iran recognizes the state of Israel, wilted and settled for language asserting that the nuclear agreement would not compromise U.S. support for Israel’s right to exist.
Affirmation of Israel's right to exist is of course is a foundational principle of American foreign policy that was never questioned until Obama became president and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill became not so much the leaders of an opposition party, as a collection of craven cowards who wish only to avoid the unpleasantness actually having principles and standing for them would entail.No, it wasn't questioned. And it's high time the questioning should stop. How many days until Obama's term ends?