President Obama has framed the Iran Deal by ignoring Constitutional norms. Under normal circumstances, the deal would have been made as a treaty which has a specific set of criteria required for passage.
If Congress wants to defeat the Iran deal, as so many members seem intent on doing, they can reframe the deal as a treaty and use the rules set forth by the Constitution to do so.
Christopher Hull, formerly chief of staff for Rep. Steve King, (R-Iowa), has written a column for U.S. News and World Report in which he describes the process by which congress can reach this goal.
Hull begins by reminding Congress that Obama has already violated his promise to give them an opportunity to review the deal for approval before the United Nations. He also points out that the Corker-Cardin Bill which would require a two-thirds majority to override Obama’s veto has become essentially useless because the U.N. Security Council has already approved the deal.
Additionally, the side deals revealed by Mike Pompeo and Tom Cotton are a clear violation of Corker-Cardin which required congress to know every aspect of the deal, which it obviously didn’t.
Hull then outlines how congress can go back to the constitution and defeat the Iran Deal in five steps. The first one, requires congress to treat the deal as a treaty:
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.
Hull names over twelve House Democrats who have expressed concerns over the Iran Deal who could be tapped for this purpose.
The second and third steps are to convene a similar group in the Senate comprised of Republicans and Democrats who have expressed concern about the deal. Then, get these two groups to agree on language and “seal the deal.” Once that’s done, steps four and five are simple:
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.
The best part of Hull’s plan is the message it sends to Iran and other nations:
So the best choice Congress has is to make clear what its position is, and conform to the Constitution rather than to a mooted and violated process that may not meet legal muster anyway. And regardless of the legal merits, every other nation on earth would know that this deal will only last as long as Barack Obama is president.
It would be an ironic twist ending. Obama went around the constitution to make the Iran Deal but congress can use the constitution to kill it.