Is Schumer Bibi’s Point Man In The Senate?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has launched a major two-pronged lobbying campaign in Washington to block a big power nuclear agreement with Iran. Track one is killing the deal it outright, and track two is enact legislation giving Congress the power to stop it.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) just announced he is sponsoring the bill introduced by Republican Sen. Bob Corker (Tennessee), which will force the administration to submit the agreement to Congress for approval.

Schumer's backing effectively makes him Netanyahu's point man in the coming battle against the Obama administration, which strongly opposes the bill that is backed by every Republican in the Senate and many Democrats.

Schumer knows the Republican motive behind the bill is not to improve whatever Iran agreement emerges at the end of June from the negotiations but to scuttle it entirely.

The Brooklyn-born senator, who has boasted of being Bibi Netanyahu's best friend in Washington, will get a chance to prove that as he joins the Republican effort to defeat President Obama's signature foreign policy achievement.

The White House insists the Iran deal would be an executive agreement, which does not require Congressional approval, and not a treaty, which must have the advice and consent of the Senate.

Schumer's support could give Republicans enough Democratic votes to override a threatened presidential veto.  Republicans already have enough votes on their own to pass the bill but will need Schumer's help to reach the 67 required to override a presidential veto.

It's a seeming conflict of interest for Schumer, who is the heir apparent to retiring Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nevada), since the leadership usually is in charge of carrying the administration's water in such battles when its party is in the White House.

The first vote on the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 could come next week in the Foreign Relations Committee. 

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.