Pressed by a senior House Democrat at today’s Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the Iran deal, Secretary of State John Kerry would not commit the Obama administration to following the law if Congress shoots down the deal by a veto-proof majority.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) noted that the deal “might be, at most, morally binding on this administration.”
“The IRGC may publicly oppose this deal because that’s the best thing the Iranian government can do to pursue us to support — here in Congress to support the deal or maybe they genuinely oppose it,” he noted.
Sherman asked Kerry point-blank if “Congress and the United States free, under this agreement, to adopt new sanctions legislation that will remain in force as long as Iran holds our hostages and supports Assad.”
“We’re free to adopt additional sanctions as long as they are not a phony excuse for just taking the whole pot of the past ones and putting them back,” Kerry replied.
“You strongly do not want us to override a presidential veto, but if we do that triggers certain American laws… you think it’s terrible policy and you think the rest of the world would be against us. But let’s say Congress doesn’t take your advice and we override a veto and the law that is triggered then imposes certain sanctions. Will you follow the law even though you think it violates this agreement clearly, and even if you think it’s absolute terrible policy?” Sherman asked.
“I can’t begin to answer that at this point without consulting with the president and determining what the circumstances are,” Kerry replied.
“So you are not committed to following the law?” Sherman pressed.
“No, I said I am not going to deal with a hypothetical,” Kerry said. “That’s all.”