“He (the president) shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur …” — U.S. Constitution
Obama’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in which he dismissed their disagreement over the U.S. nuke deal with Iran as a “narrow issue,” reminds us of just how perfidious the deal really was.
Congress brokered a deal with the administration t0 allow the Iran deal to be labeled an executive agreement, rather that the treaty it really is, thus ceding their constitutional responsibility and authority.
In a recent speech at Hillsdale College Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton explained why this matters … or should matter and probably will matter in the near future
“This is a major arms-control agreement with a mortal enemy — an enemy with the blood of thousands of Americans on its hands, and for whom ‘death to America’ is a foreign-policy bedrock,” Cotton said. “And the agreement goes to the heart of the gravest threat facing the world: a terror-sponsoring state armed with nuclear weapons. It is precisely the type of agreement that the Founders intended to be tested and refined by the treaty process. It is precisely the type of agreement implicating matters of war and peace that must be supported by a widespread consensus of the American people.”
Asked why the deal was not a treaty, Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress:
“Well Congressman, I spent quite a few years trying to get a lot of treaties through the United States Senate, and it has become physically impossible.
“That’s why. Because you can’t pass a treaty anymore. It has become impossible to schedule, to pass, and I sat there leading the charge on the Disabilities Treaty which fell to basically ideology and politics. So I think that is the reason why.”
Treaties are supposed to be difficult. Treaties are supposed to have widespread support and not be subject to political expediency and party politics at the risk of national security.
Cotton calls this flippant disregard for the Constitution “dangerous and nearly unprecedented.” He said executive agreements are for the little technicalities not nuclear arms deals.
The senator notes that historically major arms deals have all been treaties … except one. That was the Agreed Framework with North Korea negotiated during the Clinton administration in 1994. That was intended to prevent North Korea from becoming a nuclear power. How did that work out?
“I doubt President Obama would like to cite the North Korea case as precedent — although it surely is a precedent in its contempt for Congress, and likely in its failure as well,” Cotton said, calling Obama’s skirting of the Senate the height of hubris.
“The nuclear deal with Iran is a travesty, one that betrays our close friend Israel, provides billions for Iran’s campaign of terror, and paves the way for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons capability,” Cotton observed.
Today Sen Harry Reid, prior to a scheduled meeting with Netanyahu, came out in continued support of the Iran deal. “In short, no matter how Republicans misrepresent the Iran nuclear agreement, the agreement brought about the long-sought goal of preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon,” Reid said. “The agreement does nothing more, nothing less. It prevents Iran from having a nuclear weapon.” Just like the deal with North Korea did.
Obama and Reid can try to be dismissive but the Constitution matters more than their egos and partisanship.