If you’re like most Americans who have wondered how 34 Senators can overwhelm the majorities in both houses of Congress who oppose the extremely ill-advised nuclear deal with Iran, you’re probably not familiar with the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (“INARA”).
Instead of following the Constitutional requirement that a treaty be ratified in order to take effect, pursuant to the INARA—which was designed to strengthen the President’s negotiating position—the Iran agreement would be made effective unless veto-proof majorities in both houses opposed it. This nearly incomprehensible abdication of the Senate’s treaty oversight authority was supported by 98 senators, including those running for President: Cruz, Rubio, Paul, and Graham. (Interesting side note: the only ‘no’ vote in the Senate was Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton).
In order for the President to be able to give effect to the deal with Iran, though, he had to have delivered the entire agreement to Congress for its inspection and review sometime between July 10 and September 7. And in case you’re not keeping track of the calendar, September 7 has already passed.
The problem for Obama? What the administration shared with Congress isn’t the whole agreement. It leaves out entirely the secret side agreement between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran that eviscerates important inspection provisions by, among other things,
[allowing] Tehran to carry out its own inspections at Parchin, a military facility where Iran is suspected of testing nuclear bomb detonators more than a decade ago. . . .The report claimed that under the agreement, IAEA inspectors would be prohibited from entering the site, where Iranian officials would be allowed to collect their own environmental samples. Iran would provide inspectors with photos and video of certain — but not all — sensitive areas at Parchin as well.
Writing in the Washington Post, Kansas Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo and David Rivkin, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, expose the fundamental legal flaw with this approach. Giving Congress a copy of this side deal was not an option, but an affirmative requirement of the INARA:
But the president has not given Congress a key side agreement between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This document describes how key questions about the past military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program will be resolved, as well as the precise operational parameters of the verification regime to which Tehran will be subject.
This omission has important legal consequences. At the heart of the act is a provision, negotiated between Congress and the White House, freezing the president’s ability to “waive, suspend, reduce, provide relief from, or otherwise limit the application of statutory sanctions with respect to Iran” while Congress is reviewing the agreement.
That review period was supposed to take 60 days and is triggered the day the president submits the agreement to Congress. However, because the president failed to submit the agreement in full, as the law requires, the 60-day clock has not started, and the president remains unable lawfully to waive or lift statutory Iran-related sanctions. Indeed, since the act also provides for the transmittal of the agreement to Congress between July 10 and Sept. 7, the president’s ability to waive statutory sanctions will remain frozen in perpetuity…
Pompeo and Rivkin go on to suggest that if Obama tries to implement the deal with Iran by lifting sanctions (including by releasing over $100 billion in frozen assets to the mullahs), Congress or the States should sue to block him. We note that this action is not subject to the veto of 34 weak sisters in the Senate who are proud of the President’s “peace in our time” appeasement maneuver, including our own Democrat Senator Tim Kaine.
From the Post piece:
Congress must now confront the grave issues of constitutional law prompted by the president’s failure to comply with his obligations under the act. This is not the first time this administration has disregarded clear statutory requirements, encroaching in the process upon Congress’s legislative and budgetary prerogatives. The fact that this has happened again in the context of a national security agreement vital to the United States and its allies makes the situation all the more serious.
Indeed it does.