President Obama did an end-run around Congress on the Iran deal today in what Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) noted will become known as “Capitulation Monday” in history.
The United Nations Security Council voted 15-0 this morning to endorse the P5+1 deal with Iran and start rolling back sanctions.
Both Republicans and Democrats had been frantically telling Obama to hold off on the vote. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-Md.) wrote Obama on Thursday to remind the president what he would be violating if he took the deal to the UNSC right away.
“The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, a bill which 98 Senators and 400 Representatives supported and you signed, established a 60-day period for Congress to consider the nuclear agreement. We are deeply concerned that your administration plans to enable the United Nations Security Council to vote on the agreement before the United States Congress can do the same,” Corker and Cardin wrote.
“Doing so would be contrary to your statement that ‘it’s important for the American people and Congress to get a full opportunity to review this deal…our national security policies are stronger and more effective when they are subject to the scrutiny and transparency that democracy demands.'”
On Friday, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) joined in the chorus telling the administration to cool their heels.
“I agree with Senators Cardin and Corker that the U.N. Security Council should wait to move ahead with a resolution implementing parts of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action until after Congress has completed its review of the agreement with Iran,” Hoyer said. “I believe that waiting to go to the United Nations until such time as Congress has acted would be consistent with the intent and substance of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.”
Under the law passed by Congress and signed by Obama, lawmakers are supposed to get 60 days to review the deal — beginning when all documents have been submitted to Congress.
State Department press secretary John Kirby said in a statement Sunday morning that “pursuant to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, today the State Department transmitted to Congress the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, its annexes, and related materials.”
“These documents include the Unclassified Verification Assessment Report on the JCPOA and the Intelligence Community’s Classified Annex to the Verification Assessment Report, as required under the law. Therefore, Day One of the 60-day review period begins tomorrow, Monday, July 20.”
Rubio noted in a statement this morning that not only did Obama push the Iran deal to the United Nations, but the Cuban deal moved forward with the reopening of embassies.
“History will remember July 20, 2015 as Obama’s Capitulation Monday, the day two sworn enemies of the United States were able to out-maneuver President Obama to secure historic concessions,” Rubio said. “Monday’s events at the UN, Washington and Havana leave no doubt that we have entered the most dangerous phase of the Obama presidency in which the president is flat-out abandoning America’s vital national security interests to cozy up to the world’s most reprehensible regimes.”
“President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is a dangerous and destabilizing failure, and it is telling that he is seeking Russia and China’s seal of approval of his deal before administration officials have even briefed Congress. The stakes are too far high for America’s security to be outsourced to the United Nations… July 20th will be a powerfully symbolic day for the Obama-Clinton foreign policy legacy, which will be remembered as a dark time in American history when the mullahs in Iran and the thugs in Havana celebrated at America’s expense.”
Secretary of State John Kerry, on ABC Sunday, said “a mountain is being made out of a mole hill here.”
“What we did was negotiate with our P5+1 partners, who are not subject to the Congress, that it cannot be implemented until after Congress has had a chance to vote,” Kerry argued.
“It’s presumptuous of some people to suspect that France, Russia, China, Germany, Britain ought to do what the Congress tells them to do. They have a right to have a vote. But we prevailed on them to delay the implementation of that vote out of respect for our Congress so we wouldn’t be jamming them.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) told Fox that he tried appealing to Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken and UN Ambassador Samantha Power.
“It seems to me that under the law it is Congress that has the decision in the next — and responsibility over the next — 60 days to review this agreement and decide on lifting those sanctions, the $150 billion we’re talking about, and decide upon whether or not we’re even going to lift the arms embargo on Iran, which was thrown into this agreement at the last minute. And that includes their intercontinental ballistic missile system,” Royce said.
“The administration is going an end run around by going right now to the Security Council… I don’t understand how that is proper and that’s why [House Homeland Security Committee Chairman] Mike McCaul and I sent that letter to the president and why we’re convening hearings next week on this subject.”
Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will appear Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“I’m confident that the American people, as they learn more about this agreement, are repudiating it and that Congress will ultimately reject it,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said on NBC Sunday.
Even a supporter of the deal, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), admitted before this end run around Congress, which won’t win the administration any new friends on the Hill, that “the jury is out” on Democratic support for the Iran deal.
“The Iranian deal may be good enough for the United Nations but it’s a terrible deal for the United States. Taking it to the UN before Congress reviews it is an affront to the American people and further evidence of a weak president trying to sell a bad deal,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “Congress is not bound by today’s UN decision. I look forward to a full and complete debate in the coming weeks.”