During the high-stakes negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, U.S. negotiators made monumental miscalculations, reneging on critical redlines that were once considered non-negotiable. Its latest maneuvers to filibuster Congressional votes of approval or disapproval of the deal illustrate the depths to which the Administration has sunk in order to ram through this grave foreign policy and national security error.
It actually makes sense why the White House would go to such extremes in order to stifle debate on the Iran deal. The President’s shiny new victory is already permanently tarnished by the American people’s overwhelming disapproval of the deal. Polls indicate that Americans by a 2 to 1 ratio are opposed to it, with only 21 percent of Americans in favor. Other studies have clearly shown that the more that people know about the agreement the less they like it. Meanwhile, among the American people’s elected officials in Congress a bipartisan majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives are firmly opposed.
With Iran doubling down on its vow to bring “Death to America,” Americans from coast to coast have concluded that allowing $150 billion to follow to the world’s leading terrorist sponsor, stripping away a vital arms embargo and permitting an anti-American and anti-Semitic regime to retain its nuclear infrastructure and hover on the precipice of developing nuclear weapons is hardly in our best interests
By wielding the filibuster to prevent an up or down vote on a binding resolution of disapproval in the Senate as a formal protest of the nuclear accord, the White House is flouting the will of the American people and depriving their elected officials in Congress the opportunity to go on the record regarding the Iran deal. By doing so, the Administration is demanding partisan loyalty from Democrats that strips Congress of its Constitutional authority as a co-equal branch of government.
The White House is willfully disregarding America’s system of checks and balances. It has repeated the mantra that this deal was the best that could be achieved and that the alternatives to the deal are worse. Indeed, many lawmakers who support the deal have done so while issuing caveats that they have serious concerns.
Using the rationale that Congress must fall into line with support, especially for bad deals that undermine our national security, sets a very dangerous precedent. Future Administrations will place any number of international agreements before Congress expecting approval and warning that failure to do so will undermine the credibility of the Executive Branch and that alternatives are worse.
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Such a flawed approach completely undercuts the standing of Congress as a co-equal branch of government. Congress has a vital role to play when it comes to foreign policy, and rather than abdicating its authority it should wield it to strengthen international agreements and ensure that such deals truly are the best that can be achieved.
In the case of the Iran deal and moving forward, rather than accepting as a fait accompli the agreements placed before it by the Administration, the representatives of the people should have the opportunity to evaluate proposals on their merits. And Congress must retain its prerogative to evaluate the facts and vote accordingly rather than being strong-armed into accepting Administration hyperbole that the alternatives are worse.
The actual provisions outlined in the Iran deal are bad enough. But marginalizing the legislative branch to shut down debate on a deal that ultimately paves the way for Iran to realize its deadly nuclear ambitions is particularly alarming. The White House has both a moral and constitutional obligation to allow Congress to weigh in on such a critical foreign policy decision that so greatly affects American national security.
Despite the Obama Administration’s best efforts to prevent any Congressional review or debate of this accord, Congress and the American have spoken clearly and in majority bipartisan opposition. As this Administration moves forward, it does so over those objections and on its own behalf, not on behalf of the American people, or those who make the law of the land.
• Joshua S. Block is President & CEO of The Israel Project.