According to The Huffington Post, there is a new bill in Congress (sponsored by Senator Bob Corker) that will enhance Congressional oversight of the nuclear deal with Iran. The bill is a headache and seems confusing and unnecessary.
Will the bill just get in the way of the peace deal?
Below are some aspects of the bill, according to The Huffington Post:
1. The bill would require the president to submit the final agreement to Congress.
2. Congress will have up to 52 days to review the final agreement. During that time, the president is prohibited from waiving the congressional sanctions during the review period.
3. The 52-day review period is broken down as follows: There is an initial review period of 30 days to review and vote on sanctions relief. An additional 12 days are automatically added if Congress passes a bill and sends it to the president, and an additional 10 days on top of that if the president vetoes the legislation.
4. If the final deal is submitted late, after July 9, the review period reverts to 60 days.
5. The president is required to certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran is complying with the terms of the final agreement.
6. It also requires the president to make a series of detailed reports to Congress on a range of issues, including Iran’s nuclear program, its ballistic missiles work, and its support for terrorism globally, particularly against Americans and our allies. With this information, Congress will be able to determine the appropriate response in the event of Iran sponsoring an act of terrorism against Americans, state The Huffington Post.
Cenk Uygur, host of TYT Network, discusses a deal being moved through the U.S. Senate that might allow Congress to vote to approve or disapprove of the Iran Nuclear Deal that the Obama Administration plans to sign at the end of June, 2015.
The U.S. has already attempted to sabotage the nuclear deal between the U.S. and five other countries on one side, and Iran on the other. Those attempts include inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold a “State of the Union address” about the deal, a letter by 47 Senators to the leadership of Iran, and a trip by Speaker of the House John Boehner to Benjamin Netanyahu on the day the framework of the deal was to be approved (March 31st).
Is this latest bill, designed to inject the Congress into the Iran deal, another attempt at sabotaging it?
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)
Republican Senator Tom Cotton’s letter to Iran last month wasn’t just his attempt to undermine President Obama – it was the order that was given to him by his funders in the defense industry, states Ring of Fire Radio.
Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), an opponent of President Obama’s diplomatic efforts to strike an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, suggested on Tuesday that armed conflict with Tehran could be easily contained to “several days of air and naval bombing” and would not require the deployment of American ground troops. The comments echoed the false predictions of Bush administration officials on the eve of the Iraq invasion, according to ThinkProgress.
Mike Papantonio and Abby Martin discuss this story.
Majority Report contributor Michael Brooks looks at the people who are criticizing the nuclear arms deal / peace treaty with Iran.
He discusses Speaker of the House John Boehner, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, and former CIA director Michael Hayden.
According to Wikipedia, Michael Hayden (born March 17, 1945) is a retired United States Air Force four-star general and former Director of the National Security Agency, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
“He was Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) from 1999 to 2005. During his tenure as director, he oversaw the controversial NSA surveillance of technological communications between persons in the United States and alleged foreign terrorist groups, which resulted in the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.”
According to the AP, after marathon negotiations, the United States, Iran and five other world powers announced a deal outlining limits on Iran’s nuclear program so it cannot acquire atomic weapons.
The five other world powers that are involved in the negotiations were Britain, France, China, Russia, and Germany.
The nations are directing negotiators toward a comprehensive agreement within three months.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini hailed what she called a “decisive step” after more than a decade of work.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif followed with the same statement in Farsi.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the top diplomats of Britain, France and Germany also briefly took the stage behind them.
President Barack Obama spoke midafternoon at the White House.
In Lausanne, Switzerland, Kerry said in a tweet that there was agreement “to resolve major issues on nuclear program. Back to work soon on a final deal.”
He was expected to brief reporters later Thursday, according to the AP.
Mogherini said the seven nations would now start writing the text of a final accord.
She cited several agreed-upon restrictions on Iran’s enrichment of material that can be used either for energy production or in nuclear warheads.
Crucially for the Iranians, economic sanctions related to its nuclear programs are to be rolled back after the U.N. nuclear agency confirms compliance.
Zarif told reporters the agreement would show “our program is exclusively peaceful, has always been and always will remain exclusively peaceful,” while not hindering the country’s pursuit of atomic energy for civilian purposes.
“Our facilities will continue,” he said. “We will continue enriching, we will continue research and development.” He said a planned heavy water reactor will be “modernized” and that the Iranians would keep their deeply buried underground facility at Fordo.
“We have taken a major step but are still some way away from where we want to be,” Zarif said, calling Thursday’s preliminary step as a “win-win outcome.”
Israeli leaders, deeply concerned about Iran’s intentions, were much less positive.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that a final agreement “must significantly roll back Iran’s nuclear capabilities and stop its terrorism and aggression.”
Mogherini said Iran’s heavy water reactor wouldn’t produce weapons-grade plutonium and that Fordo wouldn’t be a site for enrichment of uranium, which can be used for nuclear weapons.
The officials spoke following weeklong talks that were twice extended past the March 31st deadline for a preliminary deal. Although the U.S. pushed for concrete commitments, the Iranians insisted on a general statement of what had been accomplished. Negotiators worked concurrently on documents describing what needs to be done for the final agreement.
The U.S. and its five partners want to curb Iran’s nuclear technologies so it cannot develop weapons. Tehran denies such ambitions but is negotiating because it wants the economic sanctions imposed over its nuclear program to be lifted.
A new article by the Wall Street Journal states that Israel spied on Iran’s nuclear talks with the United States — and used the information to undermine the Obama administration’s position with the GOP-led Congress.
The White House found out about the operation, the Journal reports, when U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted messages among Israeli officials containing details that U.S. officials believed could have come only from the top-secret negotiations. The WSJ claims it spoke with “senior White House officials” about the incident.
“It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy,” a senior U.S. official told the WSJ.
U.S. officials say that classified information – such as the number of centrifuges that Iran might be able to keep operating as part of a final accord – were then shared with lawmakers in a concerted effort to derail the talks.
Israeli officials deny that and told the Journal that they did not spy directly on American negotiators.
“They say they got their information through other means, such as surveillance of Iran’s leaders or via one of the U.S.’s negotiating partners, such as the French,” states Politico.
The report shows the growing rift between the Obama administration and the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which has deepened in the wake of Netanyahu’s reelection last week.
“People feel personally sold out,” a senior White House official told the WSJ. “That’s where the Israelis really better be careful, because a lot of these people will not only be around for this administration but possibly the next one as well.”
A senior official in Netanyahu’s office fired back, calling the allegations “utterly false” in an interview with CNN, adding that “Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel’s other allies. The false allegations are clearly intended to undermine the strong ties between the United States and Israel and the security and intelligence relationship we share.”
The Wall Street Journal: “Using levers of political influence unique to Israel, Messrs. Netanyahu and Dermer (the Israeli ambassador to the U.S.) calculated that a lobbying campaign in Congress before an announcement was made would improve the chances of killing or reshaping any deal.”
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, who invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress this month, will visit Israel in the coming weeks, his spokesman said Friday.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz calls Speaker Boehner “U.S. President Barack Obama’s arch rival and the man who invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make his controversial speech in Congress.”
Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the U.S. Congress on March 3rd seemed oriented towards undermining peace negotiations with Iran. Why – because he wants war? The terms of the deal have not even been released yet? Why the rush? A letter from 47 opposition senators directly to Iranian leadership in regards to the peace deal also made the situation more complex – and “two-faced.”
Senior Israeli officials who asked to remain anonymous said Boehner will begin his visit – which has not yet been announced publicly – on March 31st, states Haaretz. He will be heading a delegation of Republican Congress members.