Oh my: Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously backs bill demanding congressional vote on Iran deal

When was the last time a congressional middle finger to The One was unanimously displayed? 19-0. Good lord.

Credit where it’s due: This is some nice maneuvering by Bob Corker around a president who’s gotten used to blowing off Congress and having his party back him up on it.

Under their agreement, Congress would have 30 days to initially review a final agreement struck to diminish Iran’s nuclear capabilities. The measure was already close to a veto-proof majority in Congress.

Lawmakers would then be able to vote to approve or disapprove the deal or take no action. If Congress passed a resolution rejecting the deal, Mr. Obama would have 12 days to veto the measure. If he vetoed it, Congress would have 10 days to try to override his veto, which requires a two-thirds majority…

“I would hope the White House would recognize this is a congressional prerogative,” Mr. Cardin said. “We have, if anything, reinforced the president’s ability to negotiate.”

The agreement Tuesday would also remove a provision requiring the president to certify that Iran isn’t directly involved in carrying out terrorist attacks against the U.S. and American citizens. Instead, the administration would have to provide detailed reports to Congress on Iran’s terrorist activities and certify to lawmakers every 90 days that Iran is complying with the nuclear agreement.

Per Corker, the bill will stop Obama from lifting any sanctions unilaterally while Congress is busy reviewing the deal, a clause that will prevent O from creating a new sanction-less status quo for Iran until the legislative branch has had its say. One thing I don’t understand is why Corker didn’t demand that the final deal be regarded as a treaty for constitutional purposes and require ratification by two-thirds of the Senate, but I suppose it doesn’t matter. They’ll need two-thirds for a veto override anyway if Obama rejects their verdict on his agreement with Iran. Plus, Corker’s scheme seems to contemplate a House vote on the terms of the deal too, which may also attract a bipartisan veto-proof majority. Having supermajorities lined up against the deal in both chambers of Congress is better than having a supermajority in just one.

Coincidentally, after having rattled his veto saber at Congress for weeks to try to prevent a bill like this from passing, Obama announced miraculously this afternoon that the new bill is fine with him and he’s prepared to sign it. What are the odds that, faced with polling that’s against him in cutting Congress out of the process and the prospect of a heavily bipartisan humiliation in the Senate on whether the legislature should vote on the deal, he suddenly saw the light just before the committee vote? Via Roll Call, here’s Corker himself accusing Obama of an obviously cynical, calculated retreat.

Update: Noah Pollak says it actually matters quite a lot that Corker didn’t demand treaty ratification:


Under the Treaty Clause, it requires two-thirds of the Senate to approve a deal. The deal won’t be implemented unless they can get to 67 yeses. Under Corker’s scheme, if the Senate rejects the deal and Obama vetoes that rejection, it’ll require two-thirds of the chamber to make the rejection stick by overriding his veto. In other words, the deal will be implemented unless they can get to 67 no’s. It’s the hawks, not Obama, who need to forge a supermajority to have their way under this scheme. Corker thinks he can get that 67. Can he?