34 Votes Later: Still a Chance to Stop the Iran Deal
While the media claims an Obama victory, Congress can still stop the Iran Deal
Anyone who has been following the story of the Iran deal (JCPOA) found out on September 2, 2015 that the deal was official and President Barack Obama defeated his foes to pass the JCPOA. However, this is simply not true. While the Obama administration and its cheerleaders in the media may not want you to that there is still a way for Congress to defeat the Iran deal, Congress still has at least one major option to do so and I am calling it “Operation Implement S.615”. Even if the President has secured the 34 votes needed to uphold a potential veto, Congress can stop the JCPOA by following the law. Here is how:
“Operation Implement S.615”
S.615 is also known as the “Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act” which gave Congress oversight of the JCPOA. With the administration threatening to completely ignore Congress in signing a treaty with Iran, Senator Corker (R-TN) and Senator Menendez (D-NJ) introduced legislation that would give Congress oversight on the JCPOA. This was passed 98-1 on May 7, 2015. The only no vote was from Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK) because the deal Corker and Menendez/Cardin reached with Obama would make it so 67 Senators had to reject the treaty instead of following the “Treaty Clause” in the constitution which states “[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…”. So while at first it does seem that Obama has his deal with the announcement by Senator Mikulski (D-MD), language in S.615 gives Congress a way to declare the law null and void and to vote on the JCPOA as a treaty.
S.615 requires the administration to do a few things. Obviously, one of them is to submit the agreement to Congress. However, the law requires the administration not to just submit what they agreed to with Iran but rather “the agreement, as defined in subsection (h)(1)*, including all related materials and annexes” (underline is my own). This is where Congress has the opportunity to assert its authority and vote on the JCPOA as a treaty.
It is abundantly clear that the administration has failed to live up to what it has agreed to. The AP reported on August 20th, the text of a “draft agreement” between Iran and the IAEA. While the immediate reaction by many was the horror that Iran virtually gets to inspect itself, the real horror should have come from Congress after realizing that “all related materials and annexes” have NOT been submitted to them. The administration can make all the excuses it wants but a literal interpretation of the law Barack Obama publicly accepted shows a clear violation on the administrations part, making 34 votes or not a moot point if Congress decides to do so.
Throughout our history there have been epic battles between our three branches of government. Our founders did not trust one man or even one government institution to rule. Kids learn this in Social Studies as the “Balance of Powers” or the “Separation of Powers”. Growing up in America, we learned how John Adams tried to push through judicial appointments right before Thomas Jefferson became President, and how the Supreme Court established judicial review in declaring those appointments unconstitutional. We learned about the battle in 1919 over the League of Nations between President Woodrow Wilson and the Republican Senate, which he insulted by not inviting a single Republican member as part of his delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. I hope that one day my kids will learn about how after the Obama administration didn’t fulfill its agreement with Congress established in S.615, Congress fought back against an oppressive Executive branch and decided to vote on the Iran deal as a treaty. That is the American way.
*Here is the text of the bill defining “related materials and annexes”:
“…The term ‘agreement and all related materials and annexes’ means the agreement itself and any additional materials related thereto including annexes, appendices, codicils, side agreements, implementing materials, documents, and guidance…”