6 Steps to Defeating the Iran Deal

Here’s my latest piece in U.S. News & World Report, this one laying out how to kill the Iran Deal. (Unsurprisingly, Mitch McConnell doesn’t appear to have read it.)

The six steps are – or rather WERE:

First House and Senate Members should immediately introduce a concurrent resolution deeming that for Congress’ internal purposes, the Iran deal is a treaty. A concurrent resolution lacks the force of law, but who cares? So does the president deeming his deal as not a treaty. Such resolutions, as the Senate’s website notes, are “used to express the sentiments of both of the houses.” The Budget Resolution is an example of how they are used – they determine the parameters of how an issue will be considered within the context of Congress.

Granted, to do so, the Senate must reach 60 votes, to overcome an expected filibuster by the president’s supporters. But such a move would have to be bipartisan anyway. So the resolution should be put on the table in the House first and, second, House Democrats who have expressed serious concerns about the Iran deal should be brought into a room to discuss it. There’s at least a baker’s dozen of Democratic lawmakers who have raised these concerns and insisted that Congress have a voice in this process: Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Eliot Engel, Nita Lowey, Grace Meng and Steve Israel of New York, Brad Sherman and Adam Schiff of California, Dan Lipinski of Illinois, Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona, Albio Sires of New Jersey, and Ted Deutch and Alan Grayson of Florida.

This group is most likely to be willing to stand up to the president’s end run. And they would help eliminate cover for the rest of the caucus: Were they to support the concurrent resolution, no pro-Israel member, no moderate Democrat and no Hoyer loyalist would be safe opposing it.

As the House is in talks, the Senate should, third, bring a group together, too. Republicans could convene it, and invite such middle-ground GOPers as Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Susan Collins of Maine, Jeff Flake of Arizona and of course Corker himself. But the invitation list should also include Democrats like Ben Cardin of Maryland, Charles Schumer of New York, Bob Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey, Gary Peters of Michigan, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Jon Tester of Montana, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Chris Coons of Delaware and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

Again, these are Democrats who have expressed the most concern about the Iran deal. A meeting with them could tease out the subgroup of six that could agree on language and seal the deal. In the context of a bipartisan House vote, getting to six in this list should be achievable.

Fourth, once they have reached agreement with the support of all 54 Republicans and at least six Democrats, the Senate could bring up the concurrent resolution, end debate and pass it.

This would mean that, fifth, in Congress’ eyes at least, the Iran deal is a treaty meaning that it requires a two-thirds majority to ratify it. That means the final step is to bring up the deal in the Senate and defeat it, requiring only 34 votes to do so.

It is likely that the president would refuse to accept the result of Congress’ action, since the concurrent resolution would not have the force of law. The Security Council has already acted, after all. He may simply go about his business, doing everything under the law he can to ease sanctions on Iran – and potentially more than that.

Likewise, China and Russia are likely to move forward with sanctions relief, since they are likely to begin arms shipments and other trade to the rogue Iranian state as quickly as possible.

But the Obama administration has already made clear that even if Congress defeats the deal, it expects the sanctions regime to collapse anyway, since the deal does not provide for approval by appropriate legislative bodies within the signatories – except, of course, in Iran and the United Nations, which astonishingly enough the deal explicitly provides for without mentioning the U.S. Congress.

Congress sure gave the impression they weren’t interested in killing the deal, just going through the motions. But that wouldn’t be the first time…