Obama Doubles Down on Using UN to Undermine Congress
News reports confirmed this week that President Obama intends to submit the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, to the United Nations Security Council before allowing Congress a chance to scrutinize the deal.
The reaction from Congress was justified outrage.
Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, in a letter to the president, “It is distressing that your administration would afford Russia and China the opportunity to vote on the final agreement before the American people’s representatives do.”
“The full 60-day review period and parliamentary procedures prescribed by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act should be allowed to play out before action at the Security Council.”
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also protested, “We are deeply concerned that your administration plans to enable the United Nations Security Council to vote on the agreement before the United States Congress can do the same. Doing so would be contrary to your statement that it’s important for the American people and Congress to get a full opportunity to review this deal … our national security policies are stronger and more effective when they are subject to the scrutiny and transparency that democracy demands.”
The president, however, apparently does not care.
Press reports today, indicate that the Security Council is expected to vote Monday on a resolution endorsing the Iran deal. According to Colum Lynch of Foreign Policy, the draft resolution:
Instructs states to refrain from taking any actions that would undermine the agreement…
The decision to take the deal to the Security Council before the U.S. Congress has concluded its own deliberations on the agreement places [U.S.] lawmakers in the uncomfortable position of potentially breaching a binding [U.N. Security Council] resolution by voting down the deal…
Under the terms of a U.S. law passed this year, lawmakers can prevent the president from lifting congressional sanctions on Iran, which would blow up the landmark nuclear deal.
However, if a resolution is approved by the Security Council early next week, any president, Democrat or Republican, would be legally bound to enforce its terms.
“If Congress were to veto the deal, Congress — the United States of America — would be in noncompliance with this agreement and contrary to all of the other countries in the world. I don’t think that’s going to happen,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters Tuesday.
This deliberate effort by the president to gut the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which Obama signed into law, by utilizing international law in the vehicle of a Security Council resolution is disgraceful.
Equally offensive is the explanation offered by the administration as to why it cannot delay the Security Council vote until after Congress concludes its consideration to the deal.
According to Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, “It would have been a little difficult when all of the members of the P5+1 [the other five are Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany] wanted to go to the United Nations to get an endorsement of this — since it is a product of the United Nations process — for us to say, ‘well excuse me, the world, you should wait for the United States Congress.’”
How unfortunate that it would have been a “little difficult” for the president to abide by his commitment to Congress that he signed into law.
What is clear is that the president gives more deference to the U.N. and the Iranian Majlis (parliament), whose ratification of the Additional Protocol to its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement is required to proceed toward JCPOA implementation, than he does to the U.S. Congress.
The JCPOA should be rejected on its merits, but Congress should also see this issue as a direct attack on its authority. This situation requires more than angry letters.
The president has openly showed his contempt of Congress in this process, Congress should respond in kind and use its authority to block and defund the president’s agenda and priorities.
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