Several blog posts ago, this was last November, I wrote that electing a GOP Congress would be a good check on the White House. What I had in mind was the particular vainglorious attempt by President Obama to conclude a nuclear agreement with Iran before he leaves office.
While, the agreement would not be a treaty, the political pressure that a Republican Congress could bring to the Obama administration would, detractors hope, make the deal framework tough for Iran.
The U.S. Constitution states that the Senate must approve treaties, but the Iran deal would not be a treaty; it’s a political agreement. Congress has voted on some political agreements involving nuclear issues as a matter of course. Yet the specifics of the Iran deal make it more closely resemble the scores of diplomatic bargains short of treaties that Congress has ignored. Yes, but this diplomatic bargain is not just historic. It holds the potential for massive game-changing balance of power geopolitics in a part of the world that U.S. has been an active member of since the 1950s.
More to the point, the political variables of this nuclear deal for the United States has compelled the Obama White House to work with Congress–Republican–Congress. This is good. Because, while the president has pushed for this agreement as early as 2008 the current deal framework is, as the world now knows, more advantageous for Iran. In short, it is a bad deal. The White House spins the story that it is the best option. President Obama has attempted to convince allies and skeptics alike of the goodness of the deal.
But the fact that Congress was sought out by the White House and Democrats are not united behind the White House shows the tenuous position of the Obama administration. It also gives weight to both the importance of the checks and balances of the U.S. system of government and how the Republican victory last November has impacted the dynamic of U.S. domestic politics. Congress is right to have a look at the proposed deal.