It’s not too often that wayward politicians are presented with a second chance to rectify their colossal mistakes, especially with regards to an issue as consequential as Obama’s treaty with Iran. Obama’s appalling, yet predictable, abrogation of the Corker-Cardin congressional process and his reneging on core promises has provided Congress with just that opportunity. But the question remains: will they pursue it?
Cotton Takes a Stand
Ultimately, if Obama is unbendingly committed to governing like a king and usurping our Constitution, there is little Congress can do to stop him, especially after they ruled out the vital check vested in the power over the purse. The check of impeachment has been rendered moot because of the dynamics of party politics. But the worst thing Republicans in Congress can do is validate and legitimize Obama’s harmful and unconstitutional policies.
This understanding was the rationale behind the letter Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and 46 other Republicans sent directly to the Iranian government. Seeing that Obama was relentlessly devoted to cementing this alliance – no matter how egregiously the Iranians behave – Cotton saw the value in publicly declaring that any deal reached without either two-thirds of the Senate affirmatively ratifying it as a treaty or majorities in both chambers of Congress affirmatively approving it as a congressional-executive agreement, would not be recognized as legitimate.
For reasons only known to God, Republicans seamlessly retreated in May from their stated position and agreed to pass the Corker-Cardin bill. This bill and the messaging used to promote it accepted Obama’s premise that he has the authority to fully implement the Iran treaty unilaterally without any congressional input. By “allowing” Congress the ability to read the agreement for 60 days and the opportunity to disapprove of it if they could muster two-thirds in opposition, Obama was not only granted legitimacy and the green light to forge the worst possible deal, he was credited for taking a compromising stance with the legislative branch.
Consequently, the public was given the impression that Congress would have a meaningful say in the final deal, but in reality this deal co-signed the GOP-led House and Senate to an unconstitutional process designed to fail.
Some Republican supporters of the capitulation defended Corker-Cardin as the only way to secure congressional scrutiny of the deal. But as we noted at the time, Obama was always destined to release the public text of the deal (he can’t hide it), but with or without Corker-Cardin he would never disclose the more important parallel agreements and private commitments he has made to Ayatollah Khamenei. For example, why is our air force serving as the Iranian protection force in Iraq? Why are we arming enemy Shiite militias but not the Kurds? Why is Obama silent in the face of endless violations of sanctions and acts of aggression, such as seizing ships in international waters? Why are the Iranians saying they can now import and export arms and military hardware “anytime and anyplace?” Those agreements will never be made public to Congress or the American people, even though their existence is quite apparent.
Obama Double-Crosses Congress
Fearing that his pact with Iran would be indefensible even for many Democrats, Obama was too cowardly to wait 60 days and rely on merely one-third of a single body of Congress to sustain his potential veto. He went straight to the UN Security Council on Monday to lock in support for lifting sanctions in a move that Secretary of State John Kerry proudly proclaimed will place Congress “in noncompliance with this agreement and contrary to all of the other countries in the world” – even if they secure two-thirds in opposition to the deal.
This act of betrayal alone should immediately prompt members of Congress to repeal Corker-Cardin. But it gets worse. As we’ve noted, Obama was never going to release the details of his private dealings with Iran to Congress – with or without a formal review process. Now, Senator Cotton and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R- KS) have exposed the details of two secret deals Obama has cut with Iran, based on conversations these Republicans had with officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Cotton and Pompeo are asserting that Iran has secured an agreement to keep any process for inspection of their secretive Parchin military complex and issues related to the broader military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program classified from any U.S. officials. These issues cut to the core concern – that between the lifting of sanctions on Iran’s military, ballistic missile and advanced weapons program, as well as the lack of inspections at military sites and disclosure of their clandestine program, Iran will have the ability to break out with a bomb and delivery system long before the agreement expires. As Cotton and Pompeo note, this is a direct violation of the Corker-Cardin bill, which requires the administration to provide Congress with all information and documents, including the details of side deals.
Obama has not only violated every red line he committed to in 2013 and subsequently promised during the April framework agreement, he has added new components to the deal, such as the promise to help Iran develop their nuclear program and protect it from Israeli “sabotage.” Obama has also allowed all sanctions to be lifted almost immediately, removed restrictions on their ballistic missile program, phased out the embargo on the sale of advanced weapons, and agreed to an unenforceable inspections scheme. The plain language of the deal seems to indicate that even the tepid requirements of Iran might be “voluntary.” As it relates to the ballistic missile program, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) pointed out at today’s Senate Foreign Relations hearing with Kerry that page 9 of the UN Security Council resolution uses non-binding language when discussing restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program even for 8 years.
As late as last September, the administration said they would allow Iran no more than 1,500 centrifuges. Now they will have over 6,000, according to the parameters of the deal. After the framework was forged in April, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said “we expect to have anytime, anywhere access” to weapons and nuclear sites. Now, that has turned into “nowhere, no time” for the important sites and 24 days for the public sites.
Obama has betrayed the very deal he pushed to give his Democrats cover.
A Path Forward
Republicans now have the opportunity to repeal the Corker-Cardin bill because Obama has already vitiated it. Rather than remaining a victim to a failed and unconstitutional process Obama refuses to abide by, it’s time for Republicans to go on the offense. Here are six immediate steps they can take:
1.) Republicans should immediately vote on a concurrent resolution (which doesn’t need the president’s signature) rendering this pact, at the very least, a congressional-executive agreement and canceling the already-nullified Corker-Cardin deal.
2.) They should then proceed to conduct votes, one after another, on individual provisions of this deal to put the Democrats on record.
3.) After establishing the Iran pact as a treaty or congressional-executive agreement the Senate should then bring the public text of the deal to the floor and conduct an up-or-down vote. It will be voted down and it will be up to the Democrats to decide whether they want to be on the wrong side of history and public opinion.
4.) Instead of going home for the entire month of August, a bicameral group of Republicans should rotate shifts of members willing to stay in session for a few days at a time and relentlessly draw attention to every aspect of the deal, Obama’s on-the-side agreements and alliance with Iran, and expose all of the promises that have been broken by this administration.
5.) Republicans should follow Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) lead by using budget bills and authorization bills for the State Department functions to defund any aspect of the nuclear deal that expends money for implementation or helps Iran develop their R&D for its nuclear program.
6.) Members of Congress should pressure their state governors into committing now to preserving their state’s Iran divestment laws.
At this point, the only alternative is to crawl into a fetal position and beg 13 Senate Democrats and 44 House Democrats to join them in an unconstitutional process that Obama has already violated and will never respect. Anyone who cares about our national security would be wise to go on offense. (Published with permission from the author, “Iran Deal: How It Came to This and Where We Go From Here”, originally appeared HERE)