Hot new theory: If Congress blocks the nuclear deal, will Obama lift sanctions on Iran anyway?

posted at 7:21 pm on August 12, 2015 by Allahpundit

You know the drill. In post-constitutional America, when The Leader doesn’t get what he wants from Congress, he’s forced to simply take it instead. For the common good.

In a saner age, the idea that Obama might defy Congress’s will would be a talking point circulated by the congressional GOP to try to convince Democrats to join them on the Iran vote and stand up for Congress’s authority. In the insane age in which we actually live, the people who are most likely pushing this idea to Politico are Obama’s own allies. This is probably the White House’s way of threatening Democratic fencesitters in Congress who are making up their minds right now on how to vote. “Your vote will be meaningless since we’ll do what we want anyway,” the message goes. “So why not join with your president and earn the gratitude of your party’s base?” Diplomacy, caudillo style:

For starters, Obama can easily revoke sanctions that were originally imposed, with no involvement from Congress, by the executive branch. Those include restrictions on loans and credits to designated Iranian companies and individuals, for instance.

More significant are financial sanctions passed by Congress in 2013, which exile banks that do business with specified Iranian businesses from the U.S. financial system. Though he may be prohibited from waiving those sanctions, Obama can still grant crucial relief to Iranian banks and businesses by “de-listing” them as targets of the law.

Similarly, Obama has the power to “license” certain transactions that may be covered under sanctions. Until now those licenses have generally covered humanitarian needs like medicine. But Obama could expand them…

Obama could take another major — and highly controversial step on his own. In late 2011, Congress passed a law that included provisions penalizing foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran’s central bank. In a statement he issued upon signing the law that December, Obama laid a possible predicate for ignoring it: The measure “would interfere with my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations,” Obama wrote, adding that he reserved the right to “treat the provisions as non-binding.”

That was one of those signing statements which candidate Obama swore he wouldn’t use once he became president and then began using right away, once bashing Bush’s executive excesses had served their purpose of getting him elected. As for whether he’d actually try to lift sanctions on Iran following a bipartisan vote to block his deal, which by definition would include at least 13 Democrats (one of them the next Senate minority leader), I’m torn. The basic rule of all Obama power grabs is that it’s the politics, not the law, that determines whether he’ll follow through. As noted in the excerpt, he could always argue that sanctions currently on the books aren’t binding on him because they infringe on his Article II powers. Most of the public either doesn’t care about constitutional niceties or lacks the civic education to form a confident judgment about whether that’s true or not, so he’ll catch no flak in the polls for his legal arguments.

The risk lies in him defying not just the GOP but a significant minority of his own party in Congress, which wasn’t the case on his amnesty power grab, and defying them not on some mundane matter of government spending but on whether to go soft on a terrorist enemy power. On the one hand, what does O have to lose by defying them? He’s a lame duck, he sees this Iran catastrophe as his big foreign policy “legacy,” and he can probably count on a majority of Democratic voters to back him no matter what. Hillary will have to run away from him, but that’s okay. Opposing him on this will help polish her own credentials as a hawk before the election. On the other hand, what if it’s not just Mitch McConnell but Chuck Schumer who’s on cable news every night saying that Obama’s engaged in a dangerous betrayal of the will of the people per their representatives and that he’s singlehandedly enriching a regime run by Islamist fanatics with nuclear ambitions? He can’t build a “legacy” on the Iran deal without lots of friendly pols and historians carrying his water. The more Democratic critics there are, the more compromised that legacy is. And imagine if, as we all expect, Iran cheats on the deal and/or engages in a new wave of regional terror using the proceeds from sanctions relief. Obama will bear sole responsibility for that. His own party, eager to escape blame before the election next year, will lay it squarely at his feet. And the spectacle of Obama crossing Schumer and Congress to make Iran happy will feed perceptions that, when push comes to shove, he’d rather have the approval of Tehran than the approval of Americans. It’ll look like appeasement — assuming, of course, that Iran would even agree to honor its end of the nuclear bargain in return for Obama’s unilateral sanctions relief. A deal that actually failed in Congress would be even easier for the next president to tear up on day one, in which case why would Iran agree to it? Imagine if Obama tried to lift sanctions on Iran and then was scorned by the Iranians.

I can’t tell what he’d do. But since Chuck Schumer reportedly isn’t demanding that the Democrats in his caucus join him in opposing the deal, it doesn’t matter. The GOP’s attempt to block it will fail in the Senate, just as it was designed to. Thanks, Bob Corker!


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Comments

Dude….Impeachment…I don’t care if it doesn’t work. I needs to be document for history.

Oil Can on August 12, 2015 at 7:23 PM

If he weren’t our first Black Gay POTUS, that would be an obviously impeachable offense…

JohnGalt23 on August 12, 2015 at 7:25 PM

Hot new theory: If Congress blocks the nuclear deal, will Obama lift sanctions on Iran anyway?

…is the Pope Catholic?

JugEarsButtHurt on August 12, 2015 at 7:27 PM

Mitch and John will step up…………….and back anything Dear Leader wants.

d1carter on August 12, 2015 at 7:27 PM

It’s a done deal….

d1carter on August 12, 2015 at 7:28 PM

Heck, Kerry’s already admitted they don’t classify it as a treaty because they don’t want to actually follow the Constitution and get 2/3 of the Senate to approve. Basically, eff the Constitution, he’ll do what he wants.

RblDiver on August 12, 2015 at 7:29 PM

Whatever happens Obama will do what is worst for the USA and Israel. He doesn’t even try to hide it anymore.

The Notorious G.O.P on August 12, 2015 at 7:31 PM

Off Topic, but Oh-God.

zerohedge retweeted
Hillary Clinton [email protected] 5h5 hours ago
How does your student loan debt make you feel?
Tell us in 3 emojis or less.

Oil Can on August 12, 2015 at 7:32 PM

He’d do this to spite the noes to his farce.

Flange on August 12, 2015 at 7:32 PM

Thank goodness McTurtle and Boner haven’t yet taken impeachment off the table … /

ShainS on August 12, 2015 at 7:33 PM

Hot new theory: If Congress blocks the nuclear deal, will Obama lift sanctions on Iran anyway?

…is the Pope Catholic?

JugEarsButtHurt on August 12, 2015 at 7:27 PM

The new version goes like this: … is the Pope Communist?

ShainS on August 12, 2015 at 7:34 PM

zerohedge retweeted
Hillary Clinton [email protected] 5h5 hours ago
How does your student loan debt make you feel?
Tell us in 3 emojis or less.

Oil Can on August 12, 2015 at 7:32 PM

╭∩╮(︶︿︶)╭∩╮

Flange on August 12, 2015 at 7:35 PM

Off Topic, but Oh-God.

zerohedge retweeted
Hillary Clinton [email protected] 5h5 hours ago
How does your student loan debt make you feel?
Tell us in 3 emojis or less.

Oil Can on August 12, 2015 at 7:32 PM

LOL. Proof that Putin has hacked Killary’s twitter account …

ShainS on August 12, 2015 at 7:36 PM

Hot new theory: If Congress blocks the nuclear deal, will Obama lift sanctions on Iran anyway?

…is the Pope Catholic?

JugEarsButtHurt on August 12, 2015 at 7:27 PM

So, you’re saying it’s still up in the air.

RBMN on August 12, 2015 at 7:36 PM

The international trade sanctions will be dropped no matter how Congress votes.

antifederalist on August 12, 2015 at 7:38 PM

Hot new Theory: EPA caused spill on purpose:

Last Wednesday, a small EPA-supervised work crew inspecting the Gold King mine accidentally knocked a hole in a waste pit, releasing at least three million gallons of acidic liquid laden with toxic heavy metals. (ABC)

This letter to editor, posted below, was published in The Silverton Standard and The Miner local newspaper, authored by a retired geologist, one week before EPA mine spill. The letter detailed verbatim, how EPA officials would foul up the Animas River on purpose in order to secure superfund money. If the Gold King mine was declared a superfund site it would essentially kill future development for the mining industry in the area. The Obama EPA is vehemently opposed to mining and development.

The EPA pushed for nearly 25 years, to apply its Superfund program to the Gold King mine. If a leak occurred the EPA would then receive superfund status. That is exactly what happened.

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2015/08/letter-to-editor-predicted-colorado-epa-spill-one-week-before-catastrophe-so-epa-could-secure-superfund-cash/#st_refDomain=tweetdeck.twitter.com&st_refQuery=/

davidk on August 12, 2015 at 7:40 PM

the President has zero authority to impose or lift trade sanctions. ALL oversight of trade with foreign nations is the responsibility of Congress.

RockinRickOwen on August 12, 2015 at 7:40 PM

Bob F***ing Corker.

And even in reliable red states, these assholes can’t be replaced by conservative alternatives.

Aizen on August 12, 2015 at 7:46 PM

You must be kidding. When has Barack Obama ever exceeded his constitutional authority?

VorDaj on August 12, 2015 at 7:48 PM

LOL. Proof that Putin has hacked Killary’s twitter account …

ShainS on August 12, 2015 at 7:36 PM

I thought I asked you to keep that just between you and me for now?

PootyPoot on August 12, 2015 at 7:50 PM

He’s all but said he would. None of us should be surprised. After all, this is about important things like the legacy of the unprecedented black President, not stupid stuff like running a country.

Rusty Nail on August 12, 2015 at 7:50 PM

the President has zero authority to impose or lift trade sanctions. ALL oversight of trade with foreign nations is the responsibility of Congress.

RockinRickOwen on August 12, 2015 at 7:40 PM

And what, exactly, in this megalomaniacal child’s performance in the last few years, makes you think barry gives a limp f*ck about the Constitution and the legal limits of his current job?

He will do whatever he thinks he can get away with, to push Israel into defending itself, and then point his accusatory little bony finger at Bibi Netanyahu, before lobbying the UN to wipe Israel from the map.

a5minmajor on August 12, 2015 at 7:50 PM

Tell us in 3 emojis or less if you are being investigated by the FBI.

faraway on August 12, 2015 at 7:53 PM

the President has zero authority to impose or lift trade sanctions. ALL oversight of trade with foreign nations is the responsibility of Congress.

RockinRickOwen on August 12, 2015 at 7:40 PM

[From NYT, 02/05/1995: PRESIDENT IMPOSES TRADE SANCTIONS ON CHINESE GOODS, first paragraph:]

“The Clinton Administration imposed punitive tariffs today on more than $1 billion of Chinese goods, the largest trade sanctions in American history, and warned of further action if the Communist Government continued to refuse to crack down on rampant piracy of American software, movies and music.”

[No mention of Congress at all in the article …]

ShainS on August 12, 2015 at 7:55 PM

Obama wants the fight and possible impeachment. Otherwise he will only be known as the worst president ever. With impeachment he can rally the press against the “mean nasty Republicans”.

Tater Salad on August 12, 2015 at 7:55 PM

I thought I asked you to keep that just between you and me for now?

PootyPoot on August 12, 2015 at 7:50 PM

Heh.

[Did we have an open registration lately that I missed? I’m seeing lots of new noms commenting …]

ShainS on August 12, 2015 at 7:57 PM

#BlackLivesMatter-JewsNotSoMuch

faraway on August 12, 2015 at 7:58 PM

the President has zero authority to impose or lift trade sanctions. ALL oversight of trade with foreign nations is the responsibility of Congress.

RockinRickOwen on August 12, 2015 at 7:40 PM

Normally this would be true, but in this case not. My understanding is that when Congress originally imposed the sanctions, they gave the President the power to “waive” or “suspend” them.

This is what the Corker kabuki is about. If Congress approves Obama’s deal, they will “lift” the sanctions, and that will have the force of law.

Congress could also change that law to revoke the President’s granted powers, but that would never get past the Democrats, or Obama’s veto pen.

So we have this fake Corker charade. Congress can disapprove of the deal. Obama will veto. But whether the veto is sustained or not, Obama will still retain that power to waive or suspend the sanctions, previously granted to him by Congress.

GOP Inc. is betting that Obama will not thwart its will (I know, I know). Obama is betting that an incoming President will not have the stones to reverse his actions. That’s the weak point in Obama’s plan; sanctions can be reimposed by the next President, quickly.

This is why the Corker bill was a fraud, and Schumer’s apostasy is meaningless. The only way to stop him would have been to pass legislation reinforcing the Senate’s constitutionally granted treaty powers. Ted Cruz offered an amendment to do so, and might have gotten a vote, but Rubio and Cotton screwed it up with the “support Israel” amendment maneuver that was lame political posturing to impress Sheldon Adelson.

The fix is in, and Obama will do exactly as Politico outlines.

BTW, Allahpundit. What I’m typing here? Your job.

Joseph K on August 12, 2015 at 7:59 PM

Off Topic, but Oh-God.

zerohedge retweeted
Hillary Clinton [email protected] 5h5 hours ago
How does your student loan debt make you feel?
Tell us in 3 emojis or less.

Oil Can on August 12, 2015 at 7:32 PM

Since I would have a job without the education provided, I’ll go with:
$$$

Doc Holliday on August 12, 2015 at 8:00 PM

Wouldn’t, not “would”

Doc Holliday on August 12, 2015 at 8:01 PM

OT …..

Those crazy Jesus freaks are at it again….

https://instagram.com/tipsforjesus/

/

CWforFreedom on August 12, 2015 at 8:01 PM

Defcon 1 = some “leadership” meetings after vacation followed by Mumbles McConnell coming out to rant at 13 decibels on C-SPAN.

PD Quig on August 12, 2015 at 8:04 PM

Iran Denies Zarif’s Son Was Best Man At Vanessa Kerry’s Wedding

http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-denies-zarifs-son-was-best-man-to-kerrys-son-in-law/

Christien on August 12, 2015 at 8:07 PM

Bush v. obola:

Nigerian Activist on Africa and Presidential Legacies: Bush Fought AIDS, Obama Promoted Homosexual Agenda

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/penny-starr/nigerian-activist-africa-and-presidential-legacies-bush-fought-aids-obama

davidk on August 12, 2015 at 8:09 PM

Congress is for slobs and losers.

forest on August 12, 2015 at 8:12 PM

Hot new theory: If Congress blocks the nuclear deal, will Obama lift sanctions on Iran anyway?

YES.

they lie on August 12, 2015 at 8:17 PM

John (Phineas T. Bluster) Kerry double talks his way around (and contradicts his earlier position once about) another aspect of the Iran deal. Seriously, if anyone can unravel the blather of his response to the reporter cited here, please clue me in. Kerry has a tendency to tangle himself in word spaghetti … with an over-abundance of qualifiers and adverbs.
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/422462/kerry-ridiculous-bush-position-iran-has-no-right-enrich-uranium-now-my-position-andrew

onlineanalyst on August 12, 2015 at 8:19 PM

the President has zero authority to impose or lift trade sanctions. ALL oversight of trade with foreign nations is the responsibility of Congress.

RockinRickOwen on August 12, 2015 at 7:40 PM

Technically that’s not true.

Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917
Foreign Assistance Act of 1961
International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977
Export Administration Act of 1979

all give embargo powers to the president. Iran is not embargoed under any of these but under specific laws passed by congress, however.

Tlaloc on August 12, 2015 at 8:20 PM

David Burge [email protected] 44m44 minutes ago

.@HillaryClinton The fact that people with college loan debt communicate in emojis is the WHOLE F**KING PROBLEM

davidk on August 12, 2015 at 8:25 PM

….that’s so cute that people actually think this will die in Congress…

Pelosi Schmelosi on August 12, 2015 at 8:38 PM

davidk on August 12, 2015 at 8:25 PM

He is the best!

Barred on August 12, 2015 at 8:41 PM

Hillary Clinton [email protected] 5h5 hours ago
How does your student loan debt make you feel?
Tell us in 3 emojis or less.

…are there any emojis for GIMME + THE + MONEY..??

Pelosi Schmelosi on August 12, 2015 at 8:42 PM

Bush v. obola:

davidk on August 12, 2015 at 8:09 PM

…Odoooshbag’s first EO…

Obama Reverses Rules on U.S. Abortion Aid

The executive order that Mr. Obama signed reverses one of the first measures enacted by Mr. Bush when he took over the White House eight years ago

Pelosi Schmelosi on August 12, 2015 at 8:49 PM

The GOP’s attempt to block it will fail in the Senate, just as it was designed to. Thanks, Bob Corker!

McConnell and Corker did this intentionally. They want this deal to go through while pretending they don’t. I would say it was insane, but they really do not seem to face any fall out from it.

Evi L. Bloggerlady on August 12, 2015 at 8:57 PM

I don’t care much for this Obama “guy”. I’d say more but I’d rather not have my driveway blocked with black Suburbans or…Prius’s if that’s what they use today.

Dingbat63 on August 12, 2015 at 9:35 PM

This Congress is feckless. I see no reason why 0 won’t demonstrate total authority over them.

Bmore on August 12, 2015 at 9:55 PM

…I’d rather not have my driveway blocked with black Suburbans or…Prius’s if that’s what they use today.

Dingbat63 on August 12, 2015 at 9:35 PM

Oh. No, today your driveway will be overflown by a swarm of itty bitty drones.

RushBaby on August 12, 2015 at 10:16 PM

McConnell and Corker did this intentionally. They want this deal to go through while pretending they don’t. I would say it was insane, but they really do not seem to face any fall out from it.

Evi L. Bloggerlady on August 12, 2015 at 8:57 PM

Yes, a terrible bill. I had too look up the vote for the “Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act”; passed 98 – 1.
The only “no” vote was Senator Cotton:

“A nuclear-arms agreement with any adversary—especially the terror-sponsoring, Islamist Iranian regime—should be submitted as a treaty and obtain a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate as required by the Constitution.”

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/05/07/senate-passes-corkers-iran-bill-98-1/

In the House 19 R’s voted against it.

What a sleazy bill of political cover. Instead of approve, they disapprove. Can’t you feel all their love for Obama? Guess they think we’re too dumb to know any difference.

Belle on August 12, 2015 at 11:45 PM

He probably will, there is absolutely nothing the little dictator won’t try.

rplat on August 13, 2015 at 12:02 AM

Hot new theory: If Congress blocks the nuclear deal, will Obama lift sanctions on Iran anyway?

“Oh boy, the Hill will be in Defcon 1 mode.”

Defcon 1 mode for the Surrender Monkeys, Boehner and McConnell, is likely an extra martini for lunch. The Democrats will be laughing at them.

RJL on August 13, 2015 at 2:48 AM