Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Chuck Schumer Defies Obama on Iran, Says Congress Should Have Role

Monday, 06 Apr 2015 09:12 PM
By Joel Himelfarb
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New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, in all likelihood the next Senate Democratic leader, has endorsed passage of a measure opposed by President Barack Obama that would give Congress a chance to reject the administration-brokered nuclear framework deal with Iran.
Schumer, who is also one of the most influential voices in the Iran debate, told Politico on Monday that "I strongly believe that Congress should have the right to disapprove any agreement" dealing with Iran's nuclear program.
Schumer threw his support behind legislation introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker to allow Congress to vote to suspend the lifting of sanctions on Iran.

Schumer's comments "illustrate the enormity of the task ahead for President Barack Obama and his team," Politico noted. While there's no certainty that Congress would reject a nuclear deal with Iran, "there's an increasingly bipartisan consensus that Congress should at least have the ability to do so."

With no Democratic co-sponsors publicly backing away from the Corker bill, some supporters say they have detected a new tone from the White House. They point to comments made by Obama to the New York Times over the weekend in which he suggested finding some kind of legislative compromise "that allows Congress to express itself but does not encroach on traditional presidential prerogatives."

Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, usually a stalwart supporter of Obama, called the president's tone in the interview with the Times "a recognition of the reality of the situation" in Congress.
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"They are now in a realistic position," said Kaine, who co-wrote the Corker bill while consulting with the White House on technical issues.

The bill would give Congress 60 days to review the framework agreement with Iran by freezing sanctions relief for the Islamist regime, and would permit lawmakers the ability to formally approve or disapprove of the deal.

"The argument that the Corker bill somehow interferes with the negotiations is a complete red herring," Kaine said. "I did not sign onto this bill because of an anti-diplomacy mindset."

If Republicans are intent on formally rejecting Obama's push to lift sanctions on Iran, and likely killing the nuclear agreement, they face a difficult task.

First, Politico reported, Corker would need to win the support of all 54 Republicans and 13 Democrats for his bill. Obama would presumably veto it and send it back to Capitol Hill for what would be a high-stakes override vote.
After that, the Republicans could file a "motion of disapproval" that would also have to withstand another Obama veto. The entire process "could easily take until late May, and all along the White House would be free to continue ironing out the final technical document governing the deal," Politico said.

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