The Curious Supporters of the Corker Bill

Under no circumstances should Iran be allowed to get the bomb, given that they are the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism, have killed many American’s and constantly chant death to America. For those who care, it is also dedicated to destroying Israel, America’s most stalwart ally in the Middle East. I would have thought this, self-evident.  Apparently not.

President Obama, from the beginning of his first term, chose engagement with Iran as opposed to confrontation. But Iran proved a reluctant fiancée. Obama had to bribe her by lifting significant sanctions that were in place that were beginning to bite. Once the negotiations started in earnest, Obama continued to abandon his red lines by making concession after concession. But Iran held her ground.

Now the deadline for an agreement is June 30th and few believe it will be met. Obama even offered a signing bonus of $50 billion to sweeten the pot.

House Speaker John Boehner upset Obama’s applecart by inviting PM Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to address both houses of Congress about the deal in the making. Netanyahu had previously taken the position that no deal is better than a bad deal. He claimed in his speech that this deal, rather than preventing Iran from getting the bomb, paves the way to a bomb.

Obama went apoplectic and attacked Netanyahu and Boehner for this skullduggery, to no avail. He came off looking bad and greatly increased the audience for and importance of the speech.

In the wake of the speech, Sen Robert Menendez (D) and Sen Bob Corker (R) tabled Bill S.615 that would give Congress a say in the deal.  This bill had to be softened in order to get a significant number of Democrat senators on Board.

Two weeks ago, Andrew C McCarthy wrote The Corker Bill Isn’t a Victory — It’s a Constitutional Perversion:

“To summarize, the Constitution puts the onus on the president to find 67 Senate votes to approve an international agreement, making it virtually impossible to ratify an ill-advised deal. The Corker bill puts the onus on Congress to muster 67 votes to block an agreement.

And a few days later, The Corker Bill Is Worse Than Nothing

“The Corker bill undermines an essential constitutional check on dangerous abuses of presidential power. In exchange, it not only achieves nothing useful, and probably nothing at all; it creates ambiguity that Obama will spin as support, and that Iran and its helpers in Moscow and Beijing will use to accelerate the permanent unwinding of the sanctions regimen.”

Yet some supporters of Israel, groups that ought to see the mortal danger to Israel in a feckless agreement that would not stop end Iran’s nuclear ambitions, are supporting the Corker Bill.   Eli Lake and Josh Rogan in Bloomberg View wrote:

“AIPAC supports Corker’s bill as is. Earlier this year, it quietly dropped its campaign to get Congress to pass new sanctions on Iran latched onto a previous version of the chairman’s legislation. Corker’s new bill, which has added concessions to Obama, would give Congress a chance to review an Iran deal and could provide for a vote on the deal, although language inserted at the last minute makes clear that Obama could begin implementing the agreement even if Congress votes against it.

“Many Republicans, however, don’t like Corker’s bill as is. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Thursday that when the bill comes to the Senate floor, there will be a “robust amendment process,” and that he hopes the bill is strengthened. Republican critics say that the bill doesn’t have any real mechanisms to stop Obama from lifting congressionally mandated sanctions although it does stop Obama from lifting those sanctions as Congress reviews the deal.”

William Kristol, Board Member of the Israel Emergency Committee and Editor of the Weekly Standard spoke at last week’s convention of the Republican Jewish Coalition,

“Not just the Obama administration, but the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign `Relations Committee and the leading establishment pro-Israel lobbying group, (AIPAC) all prefer quiet acquiescence to and approval of a toothless bill rather than a serious debate and series of votes over our Iran policy.”

There is no reason to think that passage of this bill, as it now stands, significantly increases the chance of reversing such a deal once it is agreed to. There is every reason to think, if the bill passes without serious debate, that it will have the opposite effect—of giving the illusion that Congress is really doing something to stop or slow down a bad deal when it is not.

Nevertheless Mort Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America, (ZOA), organized a rally in Washington two days ago, attended by hundreds of activists and put out a press release in which they also supported the bill, saying:

 “1) (The activists) urged their Senators to support S.615, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, introduced by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), and thanked the 53 co-sponsors of this legislation. This Bill allows Congress to review and vote on any final Iran Nuclear Deal and vote before sanctions are lifted against Iran.”

This surprised me as ZOA is Israel’s strongest supporter in the U.S. so I wrote to Klein asking him to explain. He wrote,

“After much deliberation. We decided this bill gives us a vote on stopping deal, even if we need to get 67 votes to override a veto. That means 54 republican votes and 13 democratic votes which is difficult but possible. Without this bill there is no vote. ZOA is supporting the Cruz, Rooney, Rubio amendments. AIPAC is not.”

I find this unconvincing as the amendments will likely not pass and the 67 votes will not be obtained.

Sen Ted Cruz in his article “Congress Must Approve of Any Iran Deal”  wrote:

“On the floor of the Senate, however, I intend to press vigorously for a critical amendment to this legislation. At the end of the debate, if this bill is not strengthened, I will have a great deal of difficulty supporting it.

“So what does Corker-Cardin do? It requires the President to submit an Iran deal to Congress, and then it provides that Congress can pass a “resolution of disapproval” to kill the deal. Any such resolution would be subject to a possible Democratic filibuster, which would take 60 votes to overcome. And, even if both Houses were to pass a resolution of disapproval, President Obama could veto it, which would then require two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate to override.

“If those super-majorities cannot be mustered, the President’s bad Iran deal would go into effect.”

“Thus, Corker-Cardin motion of disapproval reverses the ordinary presumptions. Instead of the President needing 67 Senate votes to ratify the Iran deal, it would now require 67 votes to stop an Iran deal.”

Senate Rejects Tying of Sanctions Relief for Iran with Terror

“Senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin, the committee’s Republican chairman and top Democrat, have been arguing against so-called “poison pill amendments” seeking to toughen the Iran Nuclear Review Act.

“They insist that those amendments would kill its chances of becoming law by alienating Democrats and provoking a veto from Obama, who considers tougher restrictions a threat to ongoing nuclear negotiations between Iran and six world powers.

“We should do everything we can to make sure we have a voice,” Corker said in the Senate on Wednesday, as he appealed to lawmakers not to push forward with partisan amendments and explains why.

“But a Senate voice is of little value because at the end of the day Iran will get the bomb and the money from lifting sanctions notwithstanding its promotion of terrorism and its intention of destroying Israel.”

These “poison pill” amendments were tabled by Sen Marco Rubio, requiring Iran to recognize the right of Israel to exist, and Sen Tom Cotton, requiring Iran to allow inspectors to check suspicious sites. They are considered poison pills because they know Iran would never accept such conditions.

Many argue as bad as the deal will ultimately be, it is better than the alternative. Although Netanyahu argued for a better deal, no one is talking about preventing Iran from getting the bomb. The anticipated deal will only delay the date Iran gets the bomb.