How Congress let another of its constitutional powers slip from its fingers

Obama and Biden after remarks Iran nuke deal. (AP photo via NY Times)

“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

The Senate has punted away its authority and power under the Constitution over the “treaty” with Iran to try to curb its nuclear ambitions. In the deal that was brokered, Congress now has 60 days to review the agreement. Then it can approve, disapprove or do nothing. Obama promises to veto a resolution of disapproval, and it would take a two-thirds vote of both houses to override.

Not two-thirds of the Senate would have to approve.

The Washington Post explains how this came about. Since getting 67 senators to agree on complex treaties was difficult to say the least, in the 1930s, Franklin Roosevelt, already notorious for cutting constitutional corners, decided he wouldn’t call his international deals treaties.

“When is a treaty not a treaty?” professor Charles Stevenson, at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies told the Post. “When it’s not called a treaty.” Otherwise: “There’s no other difference.”

The Post said such non-treaty treaties now outnumber treaties by 10-to-1.

As for the Iran nuke deal, it is hard to find another international deal with such ominous potential for disaster. Or is there?

Winston Churchill to the House of Commons, October 1938, on the Munich Agreement:

They should know that there has been gross neglect and deficiency in our defences; they should know that we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road; they should know that we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies:

“Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.”

And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said of the Iran deal, “We have given Iran the path it has been seeking for almost 35 years. The other states in the region are not going to sit idly by, which is why in effect the nuclear arms race is already underway.”

Nevelle Chamberlain returns from Munich