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The Fatal Flaw in the Corker Bill on Iran

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Erik Schelzig

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act appears to be the most effective way for Congress to stop President Barack Obama from appeasing the Iranian regime with a bad nuclear deal. The “Corker-Mendez-Graham” bill, or the “Corker Bill,” would require President Obama to submit the final Iran deal to Congress. Yet the text of the bill now before Congress would actually make an Iran deal easier to approve–and would do so by gutting the Senate’s constitutional power over treaties.

The current versions of the Corker bill, S. 615, and a similar bill, S. 625, say nothing about the Treaty Clause of the Constitution (Art. II, Sec. 2, Clause 2): “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…”. Instead, the legislation grants both houses of Congress the ability to approve an Iran deal by majority vote. That is a significant, and possibly unconstitutional, lowering of the bar.

The debate about the Corker bill has been confused by the effort to build a veto-proof two-thirds majority in both houses that could override a promised presidential veto of S. 615. It might be understood that Congress was building a veto-proof majority of the Iran deal itself. Not so–and, in fact, it would probably be much more difficult, especially in the House, to muster a veto-proof majority against an Iran deal that had already been approved by both houses.

There is a way to fix the Corker bill: it could be amended to include a provision explaining that while the bill provides a mechanism for Congress to monitor compliance with any Iran deal, and expresses the opinion of Congress as to what a deal with Iran should include, any deal is still a treaty that must still be ratified by a two-thirds majority of the Senate to take effect. Right now, though, the major amendments at stake are focused on watering down the bill to win Democratic votes.


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