Flash!! Obama makes end around Congressional review of Iran Nuclear agreement that was submitted yesterday to Congress for a 60 day review and vote. He played Monday morning quarterback by having the UN Security Council unanimously endorse the Comprehensive Joint Plan of Action with Iran endangering the US, Israel, Middle East allies and the world. This is a “faithless execution of his oath of office to protect this country against all enemies both foreign and domestic.”
Fox News reported this breaking news, saying:
The U.N. Security Council unanimously endorses the landmark nuclear deal established between Iran and six world powers, in a first step toward ending U.N. sanctions on the country’s economy.
Note this comment by Bard University Historian Walter Russel Mead in The American Interest, “Obama Lights a Firestorm on Capitol Hill:”
This is not likely to end well. President Obama was stretching both his Constitutional powers and his political mandate when he decided to short circuit the treaty process for one of the most important decisions that American foreign policy has taken in many years. There is precious little doubt that the Founders would have considered this a threat to the system of checks and balances they wrote into the Constitution. In modern times, presidential authority has expanded, largely because American foreign relations have become so complex and the world moves so quickly that it would be impractical to subject every significant agreement between the United States and other countries to the treaty process. But given the length of this negotiation process and the enormous stakes involved, the Iran agreement really ought to have been framed as a treaty. The President, to be fair, knew very well that he could never get a two thirds vote in the Senate for this agreement, and, believing as he does that this step is necessary to the safety of the United States, he framed the deal as an executive agreement to avoid exactly the scrutiny and vote that the Constitution requires.
Congress grudgingly went along with that, passing the Corker-Menendez law as a way of regularizing the President’s irregular choice. This tilted the playing field toward the President, as opponents would need a two thirds majority in both houses (instead of only a one third majority in the Senate) to block the deal for good.
That the President is blowing off this concession by Congress is a serious matter—more serious perhaps than the White House realizes. He is really requiring Congress to accept a permanent and significant diminution in its power for the sake of an Iran deal that few members view with enthusiasm. The precedent he is setting changes the Constitution, essentially abrogating the treaty power of Congress any time a President can get a Security Council resolution to incorporate the terms of an executive agreement.
Regardless of the merits or demerits of the Iran deal, this is the wrong way to proceed. If President Obama chooses to go this route, he is provoking a constitutional crisis in order to get sanctions relief to Iran sixty days faster than would otherwise happen. The Congressional Democrats calling on President Obama to refrain from this mischievous and foolhardy course are quite right; this is a bridge too far.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image of the UN Security Council chambers is courtesy of Wikipedia.