Can Congress stop the Iran deal?

posted at 10:01 am on July 14, 2015 by Ed Morrissey

Now that the P5+1 and Iran have inked a deal that will unleash Tehran from decades of international sanctions, the agreement has to go before the legislatures in Iran and the US. The former is a mere formality; if Supreme Leader Ali Khameini likes the deal — and there’s zero reason to believe that Iranian negotiators would have acted without his express permission — then the Iranian parliament will rubber-stamp it. That leaves Congress as the last remaining stage on which this deal must play before full implementation. Bloomberg’s Billy House sees a rocky path ahead for the deal, but will it be rocky enough to halt it?

The U.S. Congress will begin its scrutiny of the international nuclear agreement with Iran amid heavy skepticism among Republicans, many of whom said in advance that they’re prepared to reject a deal that’s weak and gives too much leeway to Tehran.

Under legislation passed in May, Congress will have 60 days for public debate and hearings by as many as eight Senate and House committees. Lawmakers then could vote on a joint resolution to approve or reject the nuclear deal, though they also may not act at all.

The Iran deal is “going to be a hard sell” in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on “Fox News Sunday.” He said President Barack Obama “knows that the resolution of disapproval is likely to be introduced, is very likely to pass and very likely to get over 60 votes.”

Of course he does. In his statement earlier today, Obama already announced that he would veto any measure of disapproval:

So I welcome a robust debate in Congress on this issue and I welcome scrutiny of the details of this agreement. But I will remind Congress that you don’t make deals like this with your friends. We negotiated arms control agreements with the Soviet Union when that nation was committed to our destruction and those agreements ultimately made us safer.

I am confident that this deal will meet the national security interests of the United States and our allies. So I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal.

Ahem. It’s not quite consistent to declare oneself welcoming of “a robust debate” while at the same time pledging to ignore everyone else’s advice on the subject of it. Obama isn’t welcoming a debate or scrutiny at all; he’s telling Congress to sit down and shut up. We’re used to Obama being inconsistent and hardline at home, though. We just wish he’d toughen up abroad.

The Senate rejection of the deal under Bob Corker’s bill takes 60 votes, and is almost a certainty. So is Obama’s veto, which everyone understood well enough without the reminder today. Under the Corker bill, that veto becomes subject to an override, which will take 2/3rds of both the House and the Senate. Can the Senate get 67 votes to override Obama’s attempt at legacy-building at the expense of our allies in the Middle East? Bloomberg analyst Greg Valliere says the keys may be Chuck Schumer and Ben Cardin:

Note too the dismissal of John Kerry’s “what if there were no deal” argument as weak tea. “It’s a flawed agreement with an untrustworthy partner,” as one Bloomberg commentator notes, which makes “better than nothing” a ridiculous excuse — and just flat out not true. Nothing would have left sanctions in place, which would have at least curtailed Iran’s ability to fund its terror operations in the region. Jeffrey Goldberg calls the deal a morally dubious necessity anyway:

This sad conclusion is unavoidable. The lifting of crippling sanctions, which will come about as part of the nuclear deal struck in Vienna, means that at least $150 billion, a sum Barack Obama first invoked in May, will soon enough flow to Tehran. With this very large pot of money, the regime will be able to fund both domestic works and foreign adventures in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, and elsewhere.

It is hard to imagine a scenario—at least in the short term—in which Hezbollah and other terror organizations on the Iranian payroll don’t see a windfall from the agreement. This is a bad development in particular for the people of Syria. Iran, as the Assad regime’s funder, protector, and supplier of weapons, foot soldiers, and strategists, is playing a crucial role in the destruction of Syria. Now Syrians will see their oppressor become wealthier and gain international legitimacy (legitimacy not just for Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, which this deal will leave in place.) …

I worry that Obama’s negotiators might have given away too much to the Iranians. On the other hand, Netanyahu’s dream—of total Iranian capitulation—was never going to become a reality. The dirty little secret of this whole story is that it is very difficult to stop a large nation that possesses both natural resources and human talent, and a deep desire for power, from getting the bomb. We’ll see, in the coming days, if Obama and Kerry have devised an effective mechanism to keep Iran far away from the nuclear threshold.

True, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t have continued to keep Iran from accessing all the cash. If nuclear proliferation is as inevitable as Goldberg states — and he may well be correct — then sanctions would at least keep them from expanding other modes of terror. In this argument, we have essentially surrendered on every front. We have taken off the leash in its entirety. It’s a full retreat by the West, as I wrote earlier.

Certainly, many members of Congress will see it the same way. Can Obama keep 34 Senate Democrats in his corner to avoid a veto override? A lot depends on how the Iranians act over the next 60 days, but it’s almost impossible to bet against Obama in that scenario. Even those Democrats who have been rhetorically opposed to this deal will likely rationalize that this negotiation belongs to the executive branch. In fact, it might be tougher for opponents of the deal to get enough Democrats in the House to overturn a veto, given how entrenched those seats are. Unless those House Democrats are facing a primary challenger, there’s no upside to voting against Obama on a “peace” treaty.

The threat of Congressional veto override is similar to the “snapback” provisions of the deal itself. They exist in theoretical terms, but it’s unlikely that the will exists to exercise either of them when the time comes. Be prepared for grand theater, followed by grand capitulation, just as we saw in Vienna. When your final fallback to stopping Obama is Chuck Schumer and Ben Cardin, you’ve already lost.


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Comment pages: 1 2 3

IMPEACH Chimpy!

Reality Checker on July 14, 2015 at 3:23 PM

Ali Khamenei as NOT having a modern day equivalent to Hitler.

PolAgnostic on July 14, 2015 at 3:08 PM

Correct.

Hitler led an armed force that very nearly took on all of europe and russia. Iran’s military is a regional power, nothing more.

Welcome to reality.

Tlaloc on July 14, 2015 at 3:23 PM

…It has no force of binding law- which is why Scott Walker today said he would tear it up his first day in office!

The GOP can NOT stop an Executive Action- unless they pass a NEW LAW which Obama will veto.

AirForceCane on July 14, 2015 at 1:54 PM

What good will tearing it up do? The sanctions are gone, the money given, the nuclear program legitimized. Obama is very good at implementing unlawful things that become so entrenched that fixing it becomes horrendously difficult.

Fenris on July 14, 2015 at 1:58 PM

Exactly, when GOP candidates crow about rescinding the agreement they are saying at least one of the following two things:

1) they aren’t smart enough to understand the US cannot unilaterally impose sanctions
2) they think you aren’t smart enough to understand that the US cannot unilaterally impose sanctions

Tlaloc on July 14, 2015 at 3:05 PM

First you say something eminently reasonable (although it would be RE-imposing sanctions, as the existing ones would have been lifted already); then you say things like this:

It’d also help if you had a modern day hitler for your churchill to stand up to…

Tlaloc on July 14, 2015 at 2:57 PM

Do you dispute anything in this reply?

Please note – this troll just went on the record that the Iranian regime which:

1) publicly hangs anyone identified as gay
2) stones women to death for being raped
3) designed, built and delivered to Iraqi terrorists weapons which used shaped metal plasma penetrator technology to defeat American armor and kill American soldiers
4) builds and delivers missiles by the tens of thousands to its Hezbollah allies for use against civilians
5) publicly acknowledges underwriting multiple global terrorist organizations

and is solely directed by its Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei as NOT having a modern day equivalent to Hitler.

PolAgnostic on July 14, 2015 at 3:08 PM

And Pol didn’t even add this part:
http://www.wnd.com/2012/02/ayatollah-kill-all-jews-annihilate-israel/

AesopFan on July 14, 2015 at 3:32 PM

Hitler led an armed force that very nearly took on all of europe and russia. Iran’s military is a regional power, nothing more.

Welcome to reality.

Tlaloc on July 14, 2015 at 3:23 PM

Last I looked, Europe is a region, just like the Middle East is.
Hitler didn’t attack Russia until he thought he had Europe in the bag.
Can you say Iran won’t attack Europe or Africa, or even America, after they have the ME in a bag?

AesopFan on July 14, 2015 at 3:33 PM

If you want talk about a a traitor then you want to start with Bush for wasting tax dollars in Iraq to enrich his friends at Halliburton.

weedisgood on July 14, 2015 at 10:26 AM

For this to be a valid argument, you would have to prove that Halliburton is an acknowledged enemy of the country. And since Obama continued contracts with Halliburton, that might be hard for you to do.

Now Iran on the other hand, with hundreds of recorded announcements of “Death to America” is a lot easier to prove.

dominigan on July 14, 2015 at 3:40 PM

It’d also help if you had a modern day hitler for your churchill to stand up to…

Tlaloc on July 14, 2015 at 2:57 PM

Well, we’ve got you and yours, ya little fascist cretin.

Solaratov on July 14, 2015 at 3:42 PM

What you say is true. But using nukes is taboo. And for good reason. The reaction would be swift and hysterical. Not, as you point out, militarily from Europe. But economically certainly, and I wouldn’t put it past Obama to send over a couple of carriers to bomb Israel. It would be just the excuse he’s looking for.

Fenris on July 14, 2015 at 2:11 PM

I think its funny how you appeal to reason when they’ve stated their beliefs quite clearly and DESIRE the end of their world… because according to Islam, they end up ruling the world then.

But please tell me how you think you can appeal to them that their religion is wrong and that their beliefs don’t matter… to the mullahs who rule over their people.

dominigan on July 14, 2015 at 3:47 PM

The GOP can NOT stop an Executive Action- unless they pass a NEW LAW which Obama will veto.

AirForceCane on July 14, 2015 at 1:54 PM

They need to impeach him for treason, and undermining the separation of powers.

dominigan on July 14, 2015 at 3:48 PM

If Schumer does not go with the override he can plan on not going to Temple anytime soon.

jake49 on July 14, 2015 at 3:51 PM

Last I looked, Europe is a region, just like the Middle East is.
Hitler didn’t attack Russia until he thought he had Europe in the bag.
Can you say Iran won’t attack Europe or Africa, or even America, after they have the ME in a bag?

AesopFan on July 14, 2015 at 3:33 PM

Europe is a continent.

I can say Iran is in no position to attack anyone outside the middle east. Yeah.

Tlaloc on July 14, 2015 at 8:11 PM

Do you dispute anything in this reply?

AesopFan on July 14, 2015 at 3:32 PM

No, because nothing in there had any bearing on the issue at hand. Does Iran do some horrible things? Yeah, sure. So do we. So do the Chinese. So do the Brits. None of which are remotely comparable to the kind of threat Nazi Germany posed, for reasons that SHOULD be obvious.

Tlaloc on July 14, 2015 at 8:13 PM

I think its funny how you appeal to reason when they’ve stated their beliefs quite clearly and DESIRE the end of their world… because according to Islam, they end up ruling the world then.

But please tell me how you think you can appeal to them that their religion is wrong and that their beliefs don’t matter… to the mullahs who rule over their people.

dominigan on July 14, 2015 at 3:47 PM

Christians also desire the end of the world, so you;re saying they’re insane and can’t be dealt with either, right?

For decades the mullahs have been very practical in terms of geopolitics. They have in no way acted insane.

Tlaloc on July 14, 2015 at 8:15 PM

Can Congress stop it? Yes.

Will they stop it? No.

Do they want to stop it? No.

They don’t live with the consequences of their actions; that’s our job. Therefore, they do any darned thing they want to anytime they want to do it, and they really do believe in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and that the federal government is efficient and can produce glorious benefits anytime it wants to.

So, the Iran deal is going to go through. Our only hope is that Israel nukes the joint.

Mdirmeie on July 14, 2015 at 8:41 PM

Make him veto. Make him be the sole voice behind his unpopular policies. Make him own his disasters.

Make his frightened rats think about how much longer they can stay on this ship to electoral oblivion. We might be surprised! Vermin like Schumer may actually want a political life after Obama, so it could make sense for him to have a “principled” disagreement with Obama, as he tries to get more money from his jewish supporters. It only takes a couple of them and the rest will follow. It’s worth a try.

virgo on July 14, 2015 at 11:34 PM

Can Congress stop the Iran deal?

Wouldn’t that require a backbone?

Another Drew on July 15, 2015 at 2:02 AM

Ali Khamenei as NOT having a modern day equivalent to Hitler.

PolAgnostic on July 14, 2015 at 3:08 PM

It doesn’t matter if he is or not – he doesn’t have the Wehrmacht.

cimbri on July 15, 2015 at 3:32 AM

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