Is There a Confusing, Opaque Deal In Congress Aimed At Sabotaging The Iran Nuclear Deal?

U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)

OK, Fine will make a series of posts trying to get to the bottom of the “deal” in Congress regarding the nuclear treaty with Iran.

There is a bill currently in the U.S. Senate meant to “inject” the House of Congress into the treaty with Iran.

The controversial bill to increase Congress’ involvement in the Iran nuclear negotiations passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday on a unanimous vote of 19-0, states The Huffington Post.

The bill was hammered out by the Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and the committee’s new ranking member, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), on Monday night into Tuesday morning.

The negotiations are between Iran on the one side, and the U.S., China, Russia, France, Britain, and Germany (P5+1) on the other side.

According to Sen. Corker, the revised text was posted just minutes before the committee “markup.”  www.senate.gove states that “markup” is yet another process by which congressional committees and subcommittees debate, amend, and rewrite proposed legislation.

Only hours before the vote, the White House indicated that the president would not veto the legislation.

These new efforts may have rescued the bill, which previously faced a veto threat from President Obama and looked to be several votes short of the 67 needed from the full Senate to override a veto, according to The Huffington Post.  Previously, Bob Corker had stated he believed the legislation had enough votes to override a veto, but that seems not to be the case.

What would the legislation do?

The legislation requires the president to submit the final nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the U.S. and its negotiating partners for congressional review.

The bill also maintains the prohibition on the president’s waiving congressionally-enacted sanctions against Iran during the “review period.”

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.

“Under the new bill, the congressional review period would automatically return to 60 days if the negotiators ran late and concluded an agreement after June 9,” states the Huffington Post.

One of the key results of Corker and Cardin’s bill was the abandonment of a clause that would have required the White House to certify to Congress that Iran was not supporting terror in order to provide sanctions relief, states The Huffington Post.  While the president must still provide a series of reports to Congress detailing Iran’s support for terror globally, that would no longer be tied to implementation of aspects of the nuclear agreement.

Removal of the certification clause was a major requirement for Democrats, although Republicans accepted it grudgingly.

During the committee markup, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) reintroduced the terrorism certification language as his own amendment to the modified bill, which was not supported by Sen. Corker.

Corker did, however, convince other members of his party to hold off on presenting amendments that would have almost certainly removed Democratic support for the bill.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) agreed to hold off on his proposed amendment to treat any nuclear agreement with Iran as a “treaty,” which would require a two-thirds vote of approval from the Senate before it could be implemented.

Wikipedia states there are three kinds of treaties recognized by international law:

“In the United States, the term ‘treaty’ is used in a more restricted legal sense than in international law. U.S. law distinguishes what it calls treaties from congressional-executive agreements and sole-executive agreements.  All three classes are considered treaties under international law; they are distinct only from the perspective of internal United States law. Distinctions among the three concern their method of ratification: by two-thirds of the Senate, by normal legislative process, or by the President alone, respectively.”

Johnson made his disappointment with his party’s concessions clear. “It is a very limited role, it is a role with very little teeth,” he said of the modified oversight bill. “It is a far cry from advice and consent.”

While some Republicans were disappointed with the watered-down bill, Democrats on the committee were resoundingly impressed with the outcome of Tuesday’s markup.

“I believe this bill has been changed from a point in which I do not support it to a point in which I can,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who was one of the most steadfast opponents to the original bill.

“I believe the former bill would have disrupted and upended the ongoing negotiations between Iran and the P5+1. I believe that this bill will not do this,” Boxer said, voicing her support for the new text.

The unanimous bipartisan support for the legislation in the Committee came as a surprise even to Ranking Committee Democrat Cardin, who was constantly in touch with other committee Democrats in the days leading up to the vote, states the Huffington Post.  “No, I did not expect a 19-0 vote. I feel thrilled by that,” he told reporters.

According to Corker, Secretary of State John Kerry had pushed back against the legislation as late as 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, when he presented a classified briefing on the Iran nuclear talks to members of the Senate.

With Obama evidently easing his opposition, Corker’s bill is almost certain to become law.

Several Republicans took the White House’s reversal as recognition of the weakness of its stance, as opposed to open-mindedness and a spirit of compromise.

“The White House came to the deal when they saw the numbers of people, the growing support that was here,” Corker said.

Senator Ben Cardin, who has been in close contact with the White House over the past 10 days, declined to comment on Corker’s assertion. “I was always trying to get them to the position where they would feel comfortable and allow this bill to go forward. That was my goal from day one,” he said.

To House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), it was the Senate Republicans, not the White House, who capitulated under pressure. “We told the Senate this is going nowhere, that we are going to sustain the president’s veto,” she said on Tuesday. “I don’t know if that had an impact on what the Senate had to do. But they certainly produced a bill that would be more palatable to our members.”

After it is approved in the Senate the bill will be sent to the House of Representatives.

Sam Stein and Laura Barron-Lopez contributed this Huffington Post report. (Updated report)

3 thoughts on “Is There a Confusing, Opaque Deal In Congress Aimed At Sabotaging The Iran Nuclear Deal?

  1. If you read the bill then there is a way that the deal can be sabotaged…..great minds think alike….I am writing a piece on this also….well done my friend….chuq

    1. Yeah, this thing is confusing, and would originally require that Obama “prove” that Iran was engaging in state-sponsored terrorism….which would be hard to prove (and is not related..).

      It looks like they got rid of that part, though…

      Looking forward to your view of it…

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