Senate Foreign Relations Committee Unanimously Passes Iran "Nuclear Deal"
Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran ...
by Gaius Publius
... and the kicker: "Obama Indicates He'll Sign It."
There's much to notice here, and some about which to wait and see. First the news, via the New York Times (my emphasis):
Senate Panel Passes Bill on Iran Nuclear Deal; Obama Indicates He’ll Sign ItThe perp, or at least the "lead perp" — the lead Democrat taking blame so the rest don't have to — is Ben Cardin of Maryland:
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved legislation granting Congress a voice in negotiations on the Iran nuclear accord, sending the once-controversial legislation to the full Senate after President Obama withdrew his opposition rather than face a bipartisan rebuke.
Republican opponents of the nuclear agreement on the committee sided with Mr. Obama’s strongest Democratic supporters in demanding a congressional role as international negotiators work to turn this month’s nuclear framework into a final deal by June 30. The bill would mandate that the administration send the text of a final accord, along with classified material, to Congress as soon as it is completed. It also halts any lifting of sanctions during a congressional review and culminates in a possible vote to allow or forbid the lifting of congressionally imposed sanctions in exchange for the dismantling of much of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. It passed 19 to 0.
”We’re involved here. We have to be involved here. Only Congress can change or permanently modify the sanctions regime,” said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, the committee’s ranking Democrat, who served as a bridge between the White House and Republicans as they negotiated changes in the days before Tuesday’s vote.Did Obama cave, or was he facing a potential veto-proof majority?
With passage certain, White House officials insisted the president only changed his position because of substantial changes to the bill itself. Mr. Corker called that spin, saying the president switched sides in the face of a steamroller.Because the White House is not negotiating a treaty, the Senate bill must go to the House, where Nancy Pelosi may or may not be able to put together enough Democratic support to prevent a veto override there:
Nancy Pelosi May Save The Iran Negotiations For ObamaBut even that's iffy, especially since, as noted above, Obama has signaled he'd sign the legislation. So where does that leave Pelosi?
The United States Senate has spent the better part of the past two years working to inject itself into nuclear negotiations between Iran and a coalition of countries that includes the U.S. But as the talks work toward a conclusion this summer, the upper chamber may be in for a rude surprise.
The Senate, thanks to its constitutional duty to ratify treaties, has long considered foreign affairs its domain. But the White House is not negotiating a treaty, which means that the Senate must enact legislation in order to exercise control over the pending Iran deal. And the Senate can't make law without the House of Representatives.
Senate Republicans on Tuesday reached a deal with the White House to require an Iran agreement to go through Congress for final approval. But even if they [the Senate] can come up with the two-thirds vote they would need to make a potential rejection of that agreement veto-proof, opponents would still need the same fraction in the House. Finding 292 votes there will be difficult, given the ability of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to hold her caucus together. Naysayers there would need 292 House votes to override a possible veto by President Barack Obama, meaning that Pelosi would need to hold only 145 of her 188 Democrats to stop an override.
When asked if she would push House Democrats to get behind the bill if it reaches the House floor, Pelosi wouldn't say.That last line — "'the Cardin compromise of Corker can be supported,' she wrote" — can either be a true statement or the sound of a face being saved in the face of a White House cave. Which came first, the White House agreement to sign the bill or the loss, if any, of support in the House? We don't know. We don't even know if House Democrats will mount an opposition.
"I'm listening to the caucus to see what they want to do. All they want to do is be sure that we have an agreement at the end and give the president the strongest possible hand to negotiate that," she said.
But later on Tuesday evening, Pelosi emailed her members to note that the White House had said the president would sign the revised bill. "While the original Corker legislation was harmful to the negotiations, the Cardin compromise of Corker can be supported," she wrote.
What's the Bottom Line?
If Obama has collapsed his resistance, the Corker bill is a done deal. If he's still going to hold the fort in the House, we'll have to wait and see if this is over or not. These stories read like a White House collapse to me, but the news is pretty fresh, so we should be open to revised interpretation.
Regardless of the political analysis, however, the bill itself, if Obama signs it, could be make-or-break for his Iranian negotiations. Hanging in the balance, ultimately, is Netanyahu's fondest dream — war.
Netanyahu told cabinet: Our biggest fear is that Iran will honor nuclear dealThis is a dream that, to all appearances, Senate Democrats share. I'm going to be very interested in the roll call of the floor vote. Ultimately, this could be the fault of the newly crowned future minority leader, Iran hawk Chuck Schumer, who supported the Corker bill.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a recent meeting of the security cabinet that if a comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the six world powers is indeed signed by the June 30 deadline, the greatest concern is that Tehran will fully implement it without violations, two senior Israeli officials said.
So what to think? The bill is softer — see this excellent analysis from the Huffington Post for the bullet points — but is it soft enough not to sink the deal? Bottom line — No. One. Knows.
If Chuck Schumer, and Senate and AIPAC hawks, wanted a game-altering monkey wrench, they got it.
From 1980, one of the last concerts with the original group