Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said last night that the upper chamber does have the votes already to override a presidential veto on the Corker-Menendez bill to require congressional review of any deal with Iran.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act on the eve of the AIPAC conference and Netanyahu visit along with Graham and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). The bill mandates that the president submit the text of any nuclear agreement with Iran to Congress and prohibits the administration from suspending congressional sanctions for 60 days. During that period, Congress would have the opportunity to hold hearings and approve, disapprove or take no action on the agreement.
Critics of the recent GOP open letter to ayatollahs in Iran have said the outcry over the move would dial back Democratic support for the bill, but even Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) acknowledged that wouldn’t be the case.
“We’ve got 66 now. We have got all Republicans and we have got 12 Democrats. I can’t imagine a member of the United States Senate saying that ‘I don’t want to look at a deal that relieves congressional sanctions, I don’t want to vote on it myself.’ How do you explain that to your constituents?” Graham told Fox.
Graham said he signed on to Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) letter after the president threatened to veto the bill.
“This is a very big deal. When the president told the Senate and the House I will veto any effort on your part to look at this deal and have a vote as to whether or not we waive the sanctions we created then that became imperial presidency,” he said. “So I wanted to let the Iranians know no matter what President Obama and John Kerry may tell you, under our law, the president cannot negotiate away on his own congressional sanctions created by the Congress unless we have a chance to vote on it. That is just taking our system and turning it upside down.”
“…They are destabilizing the whole region. They have killed Americans. They are trying to build a bomb, not a nuclear power plant. They lie. So at the end of the day, I want the ayatollah to understand that our president doesn’t have the ability on his own — on his own to waive congressional sanctions without our input and he is claiming he has that right. This is a constitutional crisis in the making. No Senate or House should ever let any president do away with congressional sanctions created by the bodies without their approval.”
Graham stressed that not only is the administration “informing everybody in the world of the deal but us, they are telling us that we can’t have input as to whether or not we want to relieve sanctions they have created.”
“Barack Obama and his foreign policy team are very incompetent. So I want to look at the deal,” he said. “And when the president said this letter emboldened the hardliners, he has come to conclude there must be a moderate element running Iran — for anybody to conclude that moderates are in charge at any level in Iran is completely delusional.”