Yogi Berra’s famous challenge to continue pursuing victory even when things look most discouraging applies in spades to those seeking somehow to defeat the President and his congressional allies in their pursuit of the terrible nuclear Deal with Iran. Happily there are still ways to justify hope that this terrible Deal can be defeated or at least seriously degraded.
Though the Democrat Senators appear to have clinched the votes to sustain President Obama’s promised veto of the anticipated “Resolution of Disapproval” nullifying the very bad “Deal with Iran,” the fight is not over; at least three possible countervailing strategies occur to me:
- Some senators who signed on to support the Deal change their minds and either a) vote with the Resolution and to override the President’s veto, or b) not appear for the votes; or
- Some Senate initiative reverses the earlier poor decision to support the Corker Bill that possibly enables only 34 votes (one over a third of all Senators) to frustrate the wishes of nearly a two-thirds majority who object to an agreement that actually should be treated as a treaty … requiring a most unlikely two-thirds majority for senate ratification; or
- The Republican leadership refuses to consider the “Resolution of Disapproval” or to vote on the President’s Deal with Iran while insisting that the Review Process, as written into the Corker Bill that became the “law of the land,” never began-voiding the conditions of that bill.
Change the Minds of Democrats.
That the first possibility might be emerging, consider conditions suggested by yesterday’s Washington Times article by Valerie Richardson and Stephen Dinan, “Democrats’ reluctant support for Iran nuclear deal emboldens opponents.” They begin by noting that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Chairman of the Democrat National Committee, “had to swallow back tears Sunday as she described her ‘gut-wrenching’ decision to back the Deal.” Notably, the House vote could be important, but the state of play in the Senate is even more important.
As Richardson and Dinan point out, important as yet undecided senators are still sitting on the fence. Thus, Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid is pressing to avoid their embarrassment in facing the voters in their respective states by achieving 41 votes to assure an anticipated Senate filibuster cannot be overturned-thereby frustrating even a vote on a “Resolution of Disapproval” rejecting the “Deal” for the President to veto. Richardson and Dinan reported that count is now at 40 votes with the announcements for the Deal by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).
If Senator Reid’s efforts are successful in obtaining one more vote, the Senators now committed to vote to sustain the President’s veto can avoid the embarrassment of actually voting on the deal, leaving ambiguous whether they would have actually followed through on their commitment-a situation that could be exploited with their constituents in future campaigns. “Out of sight, out of mind,” you see.
For Republicans, the fight against Senator Reid’s obvious ploy is clear-and they are fighting quite openly to assure that it is defeated and that every Senator’s vote is recorded for posterity.
If they are successful in countering Senator Reid’s efforts to filibuster the Resolution of Disapproval, then it still will be essential to persuade several senators to reverse their commitment to vote not to override the President’s veto.
For what it is worth, a possible strategy for fence-sitters to avoid embarrassment is that they just not show up for the vote. My colleague Paula DeSutter, a former senior professional staff member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), notes that when the House and Senate vote to override a veto, the override requires 2/3 of Members present and voting.
- If 100 Senators are present and voting, 67 are needed for an override;
- If only 90 Senators are present and voting, only 60 votesare required to override.
So if some Democrat Senators who are supposed to support the President just are not there for whatever their reasons, the Republican majority could carry the day in over-riding the President’s veto. Of note: George W. Bush vetoed 12 bills of which only 4 made it to the Senate for a vote. Then Senator Obama DID NOT VOTE ON ANY OF THOSE. Thus, he is NOT in a good position to demand that Democrats be “present and voting” to override his veto.
Somehow Reverse the Corker Initiative and Consider the Deal as a Treaty.
It seems the Corker initiative was a mistake in that in that it shifted the Administration’s burden for achieving a two-thirds majority of the Senate to support the Deal (if considered a Treaty) to requiring those who oppose the Deal in the Senate to achieving a two-thirds majority. (And creating a similar issue in the House, what has no role in the case of ratifying treaties.)
At this point, I haven’t a clue as to how to reverse this history.
In any case, President Obama would no doubt still insist on signing this Deal as an “Agreement” rather than a Treaty in the pattern established by his other “Executive Orders.” I expect the same outcome if a number of Democrats committed to support the President were to change their minds and either vote for overriding the President’s promised veto of that resolution or be absent when the vote is taken.
Refuse to Consider the Deal.
Andy McCarthy has made another important recommendation that offers a creative way for congress to avoid being further associated with this very bad Deal-ironically by rigorously following the letter of the Corker legislation which has the advantage of being “the law of the land.” This approach would leave a subsequent administration the possibility to rectify the damage caused by President Obama’s “Agreement” undertaken, without any imprint of support from the current congress.
Click here for Andy’s unabridged recommendation. My summary of the essence of his recommendation, as I understand it, is to follow the letter of the Corker legislation. The Corker legislation would grant Obama grudging congressional endorsement of the deal in the absence of a now apparently unattainable veto-proof resolution of disapproval, but only if Obama fulfills certain basic terms, which it has not done. Its preeminent condition has not been met-thus, the Corker process is moot and should be dropped.
- Under the explicit language of the Corker legislation, the Obama administration must provide the complete Iran Deal for Congress’ consideration, which it has not done and refuses to do. (In particular, the Obama administration has withheld information that is key to effective verification, obviously a critical part of the complete Deal.) Therefore, notwithstanding Washington’s frenzied assumption that the 60-day period for a congressional vote is winding down, the clock has never actually started to run. Congress’s obligations under the Corker legislation have never been triggered.
- Furthermore, in its very first section, the Corker legislation requires the President to transmit to Congress “the agreement. . . . including all related materials and annexes.” This material and annexes was explicitly by law stipulated to be delivered to Congress “not later than five days after reaching the agreement” – i.e., by July 19, since the agreement was finalized on July 14. It is too late to do that now.
- The Corker legislation defined the terms of the “agreement” to be transferred to Congress within five days as
QUOTE: “an agreement related to the nuclear program of Iran . . . regardless of the form it takes, . . . including any joint comprehensive plan of action entered into or made between Iran and any other parties, and any additional materials related thereto, including annexes, appendices, codicils, side agreements, implementing materials, documents, and guidance, technical or other understandings, and any related agreements, whether entered into or implemented prior to the agreement or to be entered into or implemented in the future.” UNQUOTE emphasis added.
This definition includes any and all “side agreements“-including those the Obama administration has indicated they did not negotiate-nor, at least initially, did they even know the contents of these side agreements when the existence of Iran-International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agreements were exposed during congressional hearings. And the Corker legislation expressly demands disclosure of the terms pertinent to whether the IAEA is capable of executing aggressive inspections in Iran and has a plausible, enforceable plan to do so.
And there’s more-much more-that I urge you to read from Andy’s excellent National Review article.
But the point should be clear: Enforcing the specifics of the Corker legislation should stop the current ongoing congressional debacle in its tracks. If the President wants to proceed with his international “executive agreement,” he should do it without any hint of congressional support.
McCarthy’s recommended first step is for Congress to pass a resolution stating that the Corker review process cannot proceed because the Obama administration has failed to comply with the Corker legislation’s express conditions.
President Obama and his allies will scream bloody murder-and he will most likely veto the resolution if it passes but with a tinged lasting effect since he and his administration clearly have not kept the terms of the Corker legislation which he signed into law. The President will no doubt issue an “executive Iran Nuclear Deal agreement” with no lasting force of law-it can be reversed in the next administration.
To quote McCarthy: “He would declaim that, under international law, the UN Security Council resolution he orchestrated before going to Congress binds our country to his Iran deal-and his empowerment of our enemies-even if our own Constitution has been flouted.”
And the fight over the legitimacy of his administration’s nuclear deal with Iran will continue during which time and to the degree possible, congress should use its “power of the purse” under the Constitution to scrutinize and limit funds for any efforts to fund processes that implement his unilaterally imposed Iran Deal-including rejection of efforts to limit the sanctions previously mandated by congress.
Everyone Should Inform Themselves on the Specific Shortcomings of the Deal.
It is appalling how little folks alleging to be authorities seem to know about the failings of the Iran Deal.
For example, former Secretary of State and Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powel was stunningly naïve, to say the least, in his Meet the Press interview last Sunday. It is hard to understand how he could at the same time say we needed to “not trust and verify” and also claim that this Deal was verifiable and would significantly delay Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability. His arguments were superficial to say the least, and undeserving of someone with his background, especially after having been burned by failings of the Intelligence Community.
Recall that immediately following the 100-day January 1991 Desert Storm War in Iraq (when General Powell was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), David Kay led inspections in Iraq and discovered Saddam Hussein’s major covert weapons effort to build nuclear weapons that had escaped notice by the Intelligence Community-including the vaunted Israeli Mossad. (This effort involved several thousand scientists and engineers and was within months of producing nuclear weapons.)
Then in 2003 (when Powell was Secretary of State), following the “shock and awe” stage of Iraqi Freedom, inspectors again led by David Kay, found none of the weapons of mass destruction that the Director of Central Intelligence had predicted-a “slam dunk” he called this prediction, which led Powell to predict their presence in his major speech to the United Nations that was instrumental in gaining international support for Iraqi Freedom.
In both cases, IAEA “inspectors” had provided important data inputs to these false assessments. This is the same IAEA that the current administration assures us will confidently verify the nuclear Iran Deal.
Given this background, Powell’s Meet the Press air of certainty about the verifiability of the Deal was stunning, as noted above. I never before took him to be such a slow learner.
I urge you to inform yourselves of the Deal’s facts as reported last week in a letter to the president signed by 56 senior people with arms control, intelligence, nuclear and foreign policy backgrounds-some who served with Colin Powell in various assignments, including yours truly, who strongly disagree with his pronouncements. Click here for the letter to the President and its attached backup analysis for the positions taken in the letter, strongly disagreeing with former Secretary Powell. Make your own determination and let your senators and representative know what you think.
To quote a hero of mine, consistent with Yogi Berra’s admonishment that “It ain’t over ’till it’s over,” consider the words of Winston Churchill as he was encouraging the British people in the trying early months of World War II, before Pearl Harbor brought us into the War.
“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty-never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
Winston S. Churchill
October 29, 1941-Harrow School
Near Term High Frontier Plans.
In addition to continuing to fight to defeat the very bad Iran Nuclear Deal, we will press for building the most cost-effective ballistic missile defenses possible and continue working with South Carolina folks to build a coalition to engage constructively with private citizens and their local and state representatives and other authorities to work with the SC National Guard in understanding and responding to the existential threats to the electric power grid.
What can you do?
Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.