HuffPo: Democrats Defying Obama On Iran Deal

Originally posted at the Huffington Post.

Democrats are aligning with Republicans to support a bill giving Congress the opportunity to approve or reject sanctions relief in an Iran nuclear deal, and are close to forming a veto-proof majority that U.S. President Barack Obama says could undermine the delicate final stage of negotiations.

The support for the legislation by lawmakers in Obama’s party illustrates the depth of concern in Washington over the threat posed by Iran and the concern of many lawmakers that they are being shut out of the process to contain it.

In the wake of last week’s announcement of an initial accord between Tehran and major world powers, senators are reaffirming their backing for the bipartisan bill and seeking ways to make the bill more palatable for the White House.

The Democrats, along with Republicans who control Congress, are pressing ahead despite White House claims that Obama alone has the power to negotiate and implement the evolving agreement that would see Iran curb its nuclear program in exchange for phasing out crippling sanctions. The deadline for a final deal is June 30.

The White House confirmed on Tuesday that Obama intended to veto the bill in its current form.

Even though Congress is in the midst of a spring break, Democratic senators have been toiling on the bill being crafted by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, a Republican, that could be approved by the panel next week.

“There’s no way that Congress should allow the congressional sanctions regime to be negotiated away without saying a word,” Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, who helped Corker write the legislation but who also supports the administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran, told Reuters.

Senator Chuck Schumer, one of the most influential Democrats and a co-sponsor of Corker’s bill, has reaffirmed his support for a congressional role.

“I strongly believe Congress should have the right to disapprove any agreement and I support the Corker bill which would allow that to occur,” he said on Monday.

Schumer, who is Jewish and represents New York with its more than 1.5 million Jews, is the third-ranking Senate Democrat and is expected to take over the party leadership in the chamber in 2017. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has railed against what he calls a “bad deal” and says Iran’s nuclear ambitions are an existential threat to his country.

Under Corker’s bill Congress would have 60 days to review the agreement, during which sanctions relief would be suspended and lawmakers could vote on whether to approve or reject sanctions measures.

Corker has already agreed to change the wording so that a lack of action by Congress would count as approving the deal, and that Congress could only weigh in on relief of congressional sanctions, not the entire deal. Kaine said those changes were made at his request.

In coming days, the White House and allies in Congress could seek ways to soften Corker’s legislation further with steps such as simply requiring regular reports to lawmakers on progress in implementing the deal, coupled with an expedited process for reinstating sanctions if Iran violates its terms.

Sanctions relief has been one of the key sticking points in the marathon talks that could yet sabotage a final deal. The White House has said sanctions would be phased out but Iran’s negotiators have interpreted the accord differently, saying they would be lifted immediately.

The Obama administration argues that the bill would interfere with the talks and deter Iran from signing a deal that it sees as potentially ending decades of tense relations with Iran and possibly fostering broader Middle East peace.

But Obama took a more conciliatory line in an interview with the New York Times at the weekend, saying he hoped Congress could “express itself” without encroaching on “traditional presidential prerogatives.”

With most or all of the 54 Republican senators expected to back the bill and nine Democrat co-sponsors, the 60 votes needed to take it through the Senate seem assured. It would likely get a sympathetic reception in the Republican-majority House, and then reach Obama’s desk.

Congress could override a presidential veto with a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and House of Representatives, in what would be an embarrassing setback for Obama. In the Senate, that would require 67 votes.

In addition to the nine Democrat co-sponsors, one independent has co-sponsored the bill, another Democrat has put out a statement supporting it, and several others have signaled they are open to backing it.

Obama faces a tough battle because at stake is congressional oversight of a potentially landmark deal with a foreign country. Nonetheless, Democrats are warning that they could drop their support if Republicans let partisan politics sneak into the Corker bill.

“If I become convinced…that the bill as amended, given the debate, is really nothing more than a partisan vehicle for killing the prospects for a deal, I won’t support that,” said Democratic Senator Chris Coons, a Foreign Relations Committee member who has signaled potential support of the Corker legislation.

So far, some leading Democrats see Corker as an honest broker.

Senator Benjamin Cardin, who recently became the senior Foreign Relations Democrat said the revised Corker bill was an “orderly way” for Congress to review the agreement, giving it the option to refrain from action and thus let the deal stand.

Of the framework deal, Cardin said in an interview with Reuters: “It is too early to predict whether this agreement is the best deal we can get” in keeping nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands. (Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle, writing by Richard Cowan; editing by Stuart Grudgings.)

Read more at the Huffington Post.

 

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9 Comments

  • Kim Wright says:

    April 8, 2015 at 11:59 AM

    I will sure read that. Thanks.

  • kdgaur says:

    April 8, 2015 at 12:36 PM

    Thank God in Heaven, He is answering our prayers. The Democrat party have finally stood together to do whats best for their nation, putting their people and their it ‘first’, rather than this self-centered irresponsible moron.

  • sam gray says:

    April 8, 2015 at 1:08 PM

    I am confused why the President is catering to radical countries and financial feeding them and trying to run our country by dictator tactics unless he plans to join forces with Iran and try to take over our country. Who know how much weapon information and key locations has he sold to them for his future position with them. He knows he can’t run for another term and maybe they have promised him a key roll of leadership. I DON’T TRUST ANYONE THAT TRYS To go BEHIND OUR BACk TO DEAL WITH A COUNTRY THAT Clearly hates us and shouting kill Americans unless he fills the same way. And he clearly hates white people and marches with Al Sharpton. That is unbecoming of the commander an chief of the arm forces

  • Jeff says:

    April 8, 2015 at 2:30 PM

    “If I become convinced…that the bill as amended, given the debate, is really nothing more than a partisan vehicle for killing the prospects for a deal, I won’t support that,” said Democratic Senator Chris Coons
    ….in other word: if Republicans decide to do, with this bill, what we democrats do with EVERYTHING, I won’t support that.
    Hey, at least those (D)ummies are on the right side of an issue for once!

  • keith says:

    April 8, 2015 at 2:36 PM

    Finally, we found something that the demoncraps are willing to put COUNTRY 1st above political party!

  • Karen Jordan says:

    April 8, 2015 at 2:48 PM

    I was hoping the democrats would come to their senses and do something before this one man continues to defy logic and set us on the course of destruction. I was really starting to think the dems didn’t like this country anymore. And I’m not being sarcastic I am being honest.

  • px fragonard says:

    April 8, 2015 at 3:28 PM

    Actually, it’s the Menendez prosecution. Using the DOJ as a minority whip has stung a lot of Democrats. That the president has the right to make treaties and implement them without the advice of Congress is absurd. So that’s the second big issue: maintaining congressional integrity as a co-equal branch. Worry about Iran is a third driving force.

  • infidel420 says:

    April 8, 2015 at 6:14 PM

    Maybe the dems are jumping on grenade giving obozo chance to save face. Well the congress gonna veto it no reason to even finish.

  • Andrew Morgan says:

    April 9, 2015 at 12:07 PM

    I don’t want to say, “Finally the Democrats are putting the country 1st” because I want to believe that most people have the best of intentions they just have different ideas of what is best. What I do want to say is this bill is not about putting the country first. This bill isn’t really about benefiting one party OR the other it’s something that all of congress can benefit from. Even for those politicians without the best of intentions towards America, they gain power from it as well. Republicans, Democrats, and Independents are all starting to get tired of Obama bypassing and strong arming his way past congress. It makes congress look weak and they loose face. Democrats have benefited somewhat from some of the “behind closed doors” works of Obama’s, but at some point they have to draw the line too. They have to because of the two inevitably possible outcomes from our current course.

    The first possible outcome is someone saying what do we even need a congress for if our president is going to do whatever he wants without them. We could just fire them and spend that money else where. A smart politician would gain peoples support by saying “we’re going to fire all of these congressmen and let the president have all of that power so that you the american people don’t have to pay their salaries anymore. Putting more money in your pockets.” meanwhile taxes will be lowered by a small percentage like 1-5% so that it looks like they’re making good on their promise and idiots buy it but the rest of that money gets put somewhere else. I could even see the president that did that running for a second term after the masses took advantage of that 1-5% savings and went out making major purchases thinking they were going to see even more money savings. They’ll buy houses and cars and then right in the middle of that second term the president raises taxes up by 7%.

    The second possible outcome which is more possible than the first is if they don’t start putting restrictions on the president now what happens in 2016 if a non democrat is elected president? So of course now that Obama’s term is coming to an end they want to put restrictions on the presidential seat while so many non democrats are pushing to restrict Obama. Democrats will appear as if they are siding with the Republicans trying to restrict Obama but what they’re really doing (or at least what it looks like to me) is trying to restrict the next president which is looking more and more like they will be a Republican.