Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged to the House Foreign Affairs Committee today why the administration was insistent that the Iran nuclear deal is not a treaty subject to ratification by the Senate.
Simply put, they counted on Congress not being compliant enough.
“For 228 years the Constitution provided a way out of that mess by allowing treaties to be with the advise and consent of 67 U.S. Senators. Why is this not considered a treaty?” Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) asked Kerry at today’s hearing.
“Well Congressman, I spent quite a few years ago trying to get a lot of treaties through the United States Senate. Frankly, it’s become physically impossible. That’s why,” Kerry said.
“Because you can’t pass a treaty anymore. And it’s become impossible to, you know, schedule. It’s become impossible to pass. And I sat there leading the charge on the disabilities treaty, which fell to basically ideology and politics, so I think that’s the reason why.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) confirmed Kerry’s answer: “This isn’t a treaty because it was difficult to pass. Is that — is that correct?”
“Well, it’s not — there are a lot of other reasons. We felt, we don’t have diplomatic relations with Iran. It’s very complicated with six other countries. It’s this very complicated process,” Kerry said. “So we thought that the easiest way to get something that had the leverage, had the accountability, could achieve our goal was through a political agreement. That’s what we have.”
Kerry got into a testy exchange earlier in the hearing with Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who called out the secretary of State’s perpetual response that Congress needs to offer a better option if they don’t like the nuclear deal.
“Mr. Secretary, with all due respect, it is not Congress’s job; this is the administration. And if you would use the treaty process as provided by the constitution, maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation,” Perry said. “Furthermore, you know, you say, ‘Well, this is the only deal we could get, that there’s no better deal.’ Congress has a long history of instituting better deals. Example, 280 treaties, including 80 multilateral accords modified by Congress, including the arms control agreement, SALT II and the Threshold Test Ban treaty that failed to reach a vote and were modified.”
“So there is a history for that, of getting a better deal. And if the ayatollah doesn’t like it and doesn’t want to negotiate it, oh, boo-hoo. We’re — we’re here for America. We stand for America. You represent America.”
“Congressman, I don’t need any lessons from you about who I represent. I’ve represented and fought for our country since I was out of college,” Kerry snapped back. “Don’t give me any lessons about that, OK?”
“Now, let me just make it crystal clear to you. This is America’s interest, because America is the principal guarantor of security in the region and particularly with respect to some of our closest friends. Now, we believe that Iran was marching towards a weapon or the capacity to have a weapon, and we’ve rolled that back, Congressman,” he continued.
“OK, that’s your opinion,” Perry interjected.
“That’s indisputable — no,” Kerry countered. “That’s a fact.”