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Blue State Blues: Blame McConnell, Not Corker, for Weak Iran Deal Opposition

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) has come in for some well-deserved mockery as he professes shock at the Democrats’ bad faith on the Iran deal.

His law, the Iran Nuclear Review Agreement Act, provides for Congress to review the deal. At first, President Barack Obama threatened to veto the Corker bill. Obama gave in, but then presented the Iran deal to the UN Security Council before Congress, making congressional review all but moot.

Corker called that “an affront to the American people” and wrote an angry letter to Obama, which the White House proceeded to ignore.

Next, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) discovered that the Obama administration had failed to provide Congress with the text of two confidential side agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)–a clear violation of the Corker bill.

Corker complained that the State Department’s negotiator, Wendy Sherman, had been able to see the text, but that Congress had not. The Obama administration ignored him again, and in the end the text of one deal was revealed by the Associated Press, not by the White House.

Now, Democrats are scheming to deny the Senate a vote on the Iran deal, whipping votes to mount a filibuster against the GOP’s anticipated motion of disapproval. The Democrats are not content to sustain Obama’s promised veto; they want to humiliate Republicans for opposing the deal at all.

It is a grotesque insult to the Senate, which ought to have had the sole power to review the Iran deal under the Treaty Clause of the Constitution–and to reject it if it failed to win a two-thirds majority. Corker is complaining again–and Democrats are laughing in his face.

Conservatives are furious that Corker failed to anticipate that Obama and the Democrats had no intention whatsoever of obeying the law. But there is quite a bit of revisionist history going on, in which some conservative critics are pretending that the flaws of the Corker bill were clear to all from the outset, and that the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had allowed himself to be duped–or, worse, conspired with the Obama administration to let the Iran deal pass with a wink and a nod, while Republicans would pretend they had put up a real fight against it.

In fact, a quick review of commentary at the time confirms that conservatives were high-fiving each other over the Corker bill, since the Obama administration had been forced–or so it seemed–to back down from its veto threat.

The pro-Israel community was particularly effusive in its praise for the Corker bill. The Israeli government even claimed that the Corker bill had been passed thanks to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress in March.

It is possible to count on one hand the analysts who warned that the Corker bill made the Iran deal easier, not harder, to pass. Foremost was Richard Baehr, writing in Israel Hayom. There was also Noah Pollak (no relation) of the Emergency Committee for Israel. And there was yours truly, calling the Corker bill a “fast-track” deal for the Iran deal.

What appears to have happened is that opponents of the Iran deal assumed, wrongly, that the Corker bill had re-affirmed the Senate’s authority to review the agreement, and underestimated the bad faith of the president when he promised that “it’s important for the American people and Congress to get a full opportunity to review this deal.”

Obama never had any intention of allowing Congress to block his signature foreign policy “achievement” (if surrender to an enemy nation can be called that).  Corker should be criticized for failing to predict that Obama would defy Congress, after he had done so again and again.

Yet the real blame rests not with Corker, but with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who failed to defend the constitutional prerogatives of the Senate. He should have warned at the outset that if Obama failed to submit the Iran deal as a treaty as required, it would be dead–period.

It is still not too late. McConnell could submit the Iran deal–the text of the deal itself, not a resolution of disapproval–to the Senate for an up-or-down vote. It will either fail to win two-thirds support, or Democrats will have to filibuster it.

Either way, he will show that the Iran deal has no constitutional or legal validity and does not bind the United States. Republicans have done the same–even from the minority–with Obama’s budgets, to show even Democrats cannot support Obama’s proposals.

If McConnell declines, the Iran deal should bear his name as well.

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