Following his stirring address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will return home, having made his point about the dangers of the Iran deal currently on the table. The question is: what next for Congress?
President Barack Obama has vowed to veto any new sanctions–and may have sown enough division in his party to prevent an override. Yet there is another bill in the works that, after Tuesday, Obama may find he cannot refuse.
That bill is S. 615, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, introduced by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and sporting a bipartisan group of cosponsors. The bill would require that any deal with Iran be approved by Congress. The Constitution provides that foreign treaties be approved by a two-thirds vote in the Senate, but President Obama has insisted that he can sign a nuclear agreement with Iran through his executive authority–which is legally dubious and strategically unsound.
Last week, Obama said he would veto the Corker bill. And the pro-Iran lobby opposes it (while AIPAC supports it). The left-wing Democrats who boycotted Netanyahu’s speech–as well as those who remained, grudgingly, within the chamber–might find a basis for opposing new sanctions on the argument that they could torpedo the negotiations. But they would struggle to find a justification for giving Obama unilateral power over foreign agreements, against the Constitution itself.
Netanyahu did more than rally supporters of Israel in Congress. He made an unanswerable case against the deal that President Obama is pushing–one that would allow Iran to become a nuclear power within ten years. It was such a solid argument that Obama himself struggled to respond. He would struggle even more to override a bill that would insist that Congress have review of the final agreement. And after Netanyahu’s historic speech, it is clear that many will want a say.