A treaty by any other name…still requires 67 votes

· April 15, 2015  
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Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., left, and Ben Cardin, D-Md., speak to reporters on Capitol Hill, April 14, 2015, following a 19-0 committee vote approving a bill pertaining to the Iran deal. Manuel Balce Ceneta | AP Photo

The entire government-media complex is in a state of euphoria over the bipartisan Iran bill that unanimously passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Obama has promised to sign the bill.  What could possibly go wrong?

The passage of S. 615 out of the committee, as amended, is a quintessential example of why it’s better to pass nothing than a bad bill.  Not only will this bill weaken the GOP’s bargaining power to stop the Iran capitulation, it is downright unconstitutional.

Conservative Review has already detailed all of the political and policy reasons why the entire premise of the Iran negotiations is immoral.  We have chronicled the dangerous actions Obama has taken to side with Iran and alienate Israel. Earlier today even, came the disturbing news that Obama was found to have concealed a transfer of nuclear missile components from North Korea to Iran, hiding the violation from the UN. Yesterday, we pointed out that Iran has already vitiated any notion of a framework agreement and Democrats have reneged on their promise to support sanctions.

However, putting all of that aside, there is one point that is non-negotiable – any agreement to lift sanctions on Iran is tantamount to a treaty and requires the affirmative support of 67 senators in order to attain the force of law.  Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 states that, “[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur….”   

From reading the media reports, and various statements from Republicans and Democrats on the Corker-Cardin bill, one would come away with the impression that they have agreed to abide by the Constitution and require Senate ratification for a treaty with Iran.

In reality, both parties agreed to unconstitutionally lower the de facto threshold for ratification from 67 senators to just 34.

Under this agreement, Republicans have now agreed to Obama’s premise that this is indeed not a treaty and does not require ratification from the Senate.  They are celebrating the fact that Obama was nice enough to offer them some input.  This is a huge departure from the premise of the “Cotton letter” to Iran, which spelled out the Republican position that any deal struck by Obama without the consent of Congress is non-binding.

Here is how it works

Congress will have 30 days to review the Iran deal after it is forged, presumably on June 30, and have the ability to conduct an up-or-down vote on the final deal.  But as is the case with every bill or resolution, this will be subject to a filibuster by Democrats, thereby requiring 60 votes to pass a resolution to disapprove of the deal.  Even if they get 60 votes, Obama has 10 days to veto it, requiring Republicans to muster the support of 13 Democrats to secure 67 votes to override his veto.

Accordingly, just 34 Democrats can and will block any disapproval.  After that time, Obama is free to lift all the sanctions and self-execute the treaty without ever having to obtain the support of 67 Senators voting affirmatively for the agreement.  This is turning advice and consent on its head.

Aside from Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, not a single Democrat has shown even a tepid willingness to stop Obama’s Iran sellout in any meaningful way.  It is clear they will never give Republicans the requisite votes to actually kill this deal and re-instate sanctions.  Sure, they might support some vapid non-binding resolution down the road, but nothing with the force of law.  Now that Republicans have acceded to the premise that this does not require ratification, they have no way of stopping it, even in the courts.

This bill should be called the ‘Democrat Loin Cloth Act’ because it gives Obama and the Democrats cover for their historic sellout to Iran, all the while evincing the allusion of a congressional buy-in.

What Conservatives Should Do 

Henceforth, conservatives need to take the negotiating power away from those Republicans like Bob Corker (R-TN) whose top priority is compromise and political accolades and immediately move a strong bill in the House.  The only way to leverage the Senate into passing an improved bill on the floor is to utilize their ability to pass a good bill out of the House with a simple majority.  Here are the critical elements of any bill:

  • The Senate must have final say on the agreement, meaning that if 67 senators fail to affirmatively support the treaty, the deal is null and void.
  • Should the Senate decline to support the bill, sanctions would be immediately re-imposed on Iran unless they renounce their support for Hezbollah and other terrorist networks.  This is not a perfunctory issue.  As Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah noted, “Iran will become richer and wealthier and will also become more influential” as a result of the impending agreement to lift sanctions.  It will enable them to help out its terror allies and “especially the Palestinian resistance, more than at any other time in history.”
  • Any agreement must take the form of a joint U.S.-Iran binding fact sheet.  As we have seen from the alleged preliminary framework, the White House has a completely different fact sheet from the Iranians, and even the EU and France.  This is a common sense demand being pushed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) who just wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting such a document.  If Iran does not agree to Obama’s talking points, there is no deal.
  • Alternatively, conservatives can bring the White House’s fact sheet to the floor of both the House and Senate and force “pro-Israel” Democrats to pick sides once and for all.

 


 

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Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.