Report: Obama looking to go around Congress on Iran nuclear deal

The New York Times is reporting that if the US and Iran strike a deal on Iran's nuclear program, the president will do "everything in his power" to avoid allowing Congress to vote on it.

Even while negotiators argue over the number of centrifuges Iran would be allowed to spin and where inspectors could roam, the Iranians have signaled that they would accept, at least temporarily, a “suspension” of the stringent sanctions that have drastically cut their oil revenues and terminated their banking relationships with the West, according to American and Iranian officials. The Treasury Department, in a detailed study it declined to make public, has concluded Mr. Obama has the authority to suspend the vast majority of those sanctions without seeking a vote by Congress, officials say.

But Mr. Obama cannot permanently terminate those sanctions. Only Congress can take that step. And even if Democrats held on to the Senate next month, Mr. Obama’s advisers have concluded they would probably lose such a vote.

“We wouldn’t seek congressional legislation in any comprehensive agreement for years,” one senior official said.

White House officials say Congress should not be surprised by this plan. They point to testimony earlier this year when top negotiators argued that the best way to assure that Iran complies with its obligations is a step-by-step suspension of sanctions — with the implicit understanding that the president could turn them back on as fast as he turned them off.

“We have been clear that initially there would be suspension of any of the U.S. and international sanctions regime, and that the lifting of sanctions will only come when the I.A.E.A. verifies that Iran has met serious and substantive benchmarks,” Bernadette Meehan, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said Friday, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency. “We must be confident that Iran’s compliance is real and sustainable over a period of time.”

But many members of Congress see the plan as an effort by the administration to freeze them out, a view shared by some Israeli officials who see a congressional vote as the best way to constrain the kind of deal that Mr. Obama might strike.

Ms. Meehan says there “is a role for Congress in our Iran policy,” but members of Congress want a role larger than consultation and advice. An agreement between Iran and the countries it is negotiating with — the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — would not be a formal treaty, and thus would not require a two-thirds vote of the Senate.

To the president, it's all a matter of semantics. "Treaty" or "agreement"? Or, perhaps, "understanding"? In the language of diplomats, each word has a specific meaning. The bottom line is that the US would be obligated to fulfill its responsibilities as a result of an accord with a sovereign nation. Call it what you will, Congress should have its say in the matter.

But an attempt to circumvent the Senate would have nothing to do with semantics. The president is negotiating with an enemy sworn to destroy us and has already abandoned long standing US policy by talking with Tehran while the regime continiues to enrich uranium. A clear majority in Congress have expressed the belief that Iran cannot be trusted and that any deal would be meaningless. So rather than bow to the will of the people, the president has decided that making history is more important than the democratic process and Constitutional requirements.

No one believes that once sanctions are lifted that they can be reimposed. To do so would mean Obama admitting he made a mistake. That's not going to happen. So Iran will almost certainly get the bomb, have sanctions lifted, and proceed to play the role of regional hegemon while setting off a nuclear arms race.

Yes...but the president made history.

 

 

The New York Times is reporting that if the US and Iran strike a deal on Iran's nuclear program, the president will do "everything in his power" to avoid allowing Congress to vote on it.

Even while negotiators argue over the number of centrifuges Iran would be allowed to spin and where inspectors could roam, the Iranians have signaled that they would accept, at least temporarily, a “suspension” of the stringent sanctions that have drastically cut their oil revenues and terminated their banking relationships with the West, according to American and Iranian officials. The Treasury Department, in a detailed study it declined to make public, has concluded Mr. Obama has the authority to suspend the vast majority of those sanctions without seeking a vote by Congress, officials say.

But Mr. Obama cannot permanently terminate those sanctions. Only Congress can take that step. And even if Democrats held on to the Senate next month, Mr. Obama’s advisers have concluded they would probably lose such a vote.

“We wouldn’t seek congressional legislation in any comprehensive agreement for years,” one senior official said.

White House officials say Congress should not be surprised by this plan. They point to testimony earlier this year when top negotiators argued that the best way to assure that Iran complies with its obligations is a step-by-step suspension of sanctions — with the implicit understanding that the president could turn them back on as fast as he turned them off.

“We have been clear that initially there would be suspension of any of the U.S. and international sanctions regime, and that the lifting of sanctions will only come when the I.A.E.A. verifies that Iran has met serious and substantive benchmarks,” Bernadette Meehan, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said Friday, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency. “We must be confident that Iran’s compliance is real and sustainable over a period of time.”

But many members of Congress see the plan as an effort by the administration to freeze them out, a view shared by some Israeli officials who see a congressional vote as the best way to constrain the kind of deal that Mr. Obama might strike.

Ms. Meehan says there “is a role for Congress in our Iran policy,” but members of Congress want a role larger than consultation and advice. An agreement between Iran and the countries it is negotiating with — the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — would not be a formal treaty, and thus would not require a two-thirds vote of the Senate.

To the president, it's all a matter of semantics. "Treaty" or "agreement"? Or, perhaps, "understanding"? In the language of diplomats, each word has a specific meaning. The bottom line is that the US would be obligated to fulfill its responsibilities as a result of an accord with a sovereign nation. Call it what you will, Congress should have its say in the matter.

But an attempt to circumvent the Senate would have nothing to do with semantics. The president is negotiating with an enemy sworn to destroy us and has already abandoned long standing US policy by talking with Tehran while the regime continiues to enrich uranium. A clear majority in Congress have expressed the belief that Iran cannot be trusted and that any deal would be meaningless. So rather than bow to the will of the people, the president has decided that making history is more important than the democratic process and Constitutional requirements.

No one believes that once sanctions are lifted that they can be reimposed. To do so would mean Obama admitting he made a mistake. That's not going to happen. So Iran will almost certainly get the bomb, have sanctions lifted, and proceed to play the role of regional hegemon while setting off a nuclear arms race.

Yes...but the president made history.