Putting the Corker on the Iran Deal

This deal that the Obama administration has been negotiating with the Iranians regarding their nuclear weapons is looking just awful, but there doesn’t seem to be much that anyone can do about it. The Constitution, which requires that two-thirds of the Senate ratify a treaty, doesn’t seem to offer much hope. The Corker-Menendez Bill, which will allow Congress some say in the matter if it can garner a two-thirds majority to override a veto, seems unlikely to do any better.
Still, we’re grateful to Tennessee’s Republican Sen. Bob Corker and New Jersey’s Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez for introducing the bill. It’s nice to see the legislative branch standing up for some meager portion of what once was its constitutional authority, the Iranians might feel obliged to offer a few concessions if they know that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry aren’t the only Americans they have to deal with, and it provides an opportunity to express the general American public’s skepticism about the “framework” of a deal that’s been announced. The public skepticism is sufficiently widespread that the Corker-Mendendiez Bill passed the Senate’s foreign relations committee by a 19-0 vote and a veto-proof margin seem assured in both chambers of Congress, prompting such headlines as The New York Times’ “Obama Yields, Allowing Congress Say on Iran Nuclear Deal” and Reuters’ “In setback, Obama concedes Congress role on Iran,” and we’re always delighted to see such words as “yields,” “setback,” and “concedes” in any sentence that also includes Obama.
Corker did agree to a couple of face-saving amendments that allowed the Obama administration to claim victory even as it yielded and conceded to the setback, and permitted The Washington Post’s headline writers to describe it as “Congress and White House strike on Iran legislation” and the paper’s pluck reporters to explain it as a “compromise with the White House that allows President Obama to avoid possible legislative disapproval of the pact before it can be completed.” Even the very skeptical writers at Commentary were asking “Did Obama Win By Losing on Corker Deal?,” and some smart analysts were worrying that it will all wind up with enough Democrats being able to stick with the president and still assure their constituents that they tried to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons under the cockamamie deal the president struck, which seems a valid concern the way the president keeps getting away with doing as he wishes regardless of what the Constitution, Congress, or the American public think.
And yet still, we are grateful to the eponymous authors of the Corker-Menendez Bill, and to those veto-proof majorities in both chambers that supported their work. Even the White House and its allies at The Washington Post don’t have the public relations centrifuges to spin away the fact that the bi-partisan consensus of Congress represents America’s wariness of the deal that is being cooked up, and raises the hope that some restraint on executive authority is still possible, and that maybe even America won’t wind up conceding to Iran’s apocalyptic nuclear ambitions, and for now that’s about the best we can hope for.

— Bud Norman

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