Obama Says He Will VETO Any Attempt by Congress to Have a Say in Iran NUKE Negotiations

The Obama administration once against reiterated how it will rigorously pursue it’s political agenda with complete disregard to Congressional power by saying it would veto any bill that would force him to submit an Iran nuke bill to Congress for approval before signing it.

From the Hill:

President Obama on Saturday threatened to veto a bipartisan bill that would allow Congress to weigh in on any nuclear deal the administration reached with Iran.

“The President has been clear that now is not the time for Congress to pass additional legislation on Iran,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement to The Hill.

“If this bill is sent to the President, he will veto it. We are in the final weeks of an international negotiation. We should give our negotiators the best chance of success, rather than complicating their efforts,” she added.

The threat comes after a handful of lawmakers introduced a measure requiring Obama to submit text of an agreement with Iran to Congress. It would also prohibit the White House from lifting Iranian sanctions for two months while Congress debated the deal.

Whether Obama needs Congressional approval for such a treaty is debatable. As Jim Geraghty points out, the Constitution seems pretty clear that Congress needs to weigh in on treaties, but on the other hand the kind of treaty being made may traditionally within the sphere of the power of the Executive, as explained here:

In general, I think the President has broad discretion under U.S. statutes to impose or lift sanctions on Iran, and although I haven’t looked at the Iran sanctions in detail, I bet the President has broad powers to waive sanctions without going back to Congress.  The White House is certainly acting like that’s the case, although the devil is in the details.

The more interesting question to me is whether any agreement with Iran must take the form of an Article II treaty requiring 2/3 of the U.S. Senate’s approval.  David Rivkin and Lee Casey argue in the WSJ here that Congress should demand that the Iran agreement take the form of a treaty.  There is some precedent for the Senate demanding, and getting, the White House to use the treaty process. In 2002, President Bush submitted his Moscow nuclear arms deal with Russia to the Senate despite earlier statements suggesting he wouldn’t bother.

But the deal with Iran is not an arms control treaty, which has almost always been sent to the Senate.  It is an agreement to lift sanctions in exchange for ending Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  I stand to be corrected, but I don’t think there is the same kind of Article II tradition in this area.  The closest analogy I can come up with off the top of my head is the normalization of relations with China in 1979, which lifted sanctions, but did not involve a comprehensive Article II treaty.

On the other hand, the sanctions regime for Iran is enormously complex and much more extensive than the pre-1979 China sanctions. Many of the Iran sanctions may not be waiveable by the President, and the new sanctions bill will certainly make most of the sanctions mandatory.

It seems to me perfectly constitutional for Congress to pass a law requiring the President to submit his Iran agreement for Congress’ approval, either as a treaty or as an executive agreement, as a condition for lifting those non-waivable sanctions on Iran.  This seems a perfectly legitimate exercise of Congress’ foreign commerce power and is consistent with constitutional practice in the trade arena. But until such a law passes, it is far from clear the President has to submit the Iran agreement to Congress.

Whatever the case is, if Americans rose up and demanded lawmakers face the Iranian threat, Congress could reach the two-thirds vote threshold to overturn Obama’s veto. But we’re too busy being obsessed with Bruce Jenner’s sex change.

Finally, for all you conspiracy nuts, let’s tie Obama’s mad obsession with trying to get the Iranians Nukes with Hillary Clinton negotiating away the anti-missile defense system in Poland and other Eastern European countries. Makes you wonder what country they’re actually representing, America or Iran.

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