National Security & Defense

Some ‘Victory’ ─ Two-Thirds of the Senate and the Public Oppose Obama’s Iran Deal

(Pool Image/Getty)

News media were beside themselves with glee on Wednesday applauding President Obama for a great diplomatic victory after Senator Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.) became the 34th senator to come out in favor of the nuclear deal with Iran. She handed the president a veto-proof margin against a Senate resolution disapproving of the agreement.

The American people oppose the agreement by a 2–1 margin. Meanwhile, President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and their supporters were doing victory laps yesterday because it has won the support of one third of one house of Congress.

There are two reasons why this absurd situation is possible.

First, the president refused to submit the Iran deal as a treaty for the Senate ratify or vote down. The reason was obvious: Ratification would have required a two-thirds vote, and Mr. Obama has failed to persuade the American people that this agreement is in the national-security interests of the United States. A recent poll found that a majority, 64 percent, believe that President Obama and Secretary Kerry have misled the public about the agreement. I assume that this majority grew because of the controversy over secret side deals that allow Iran to inspect itself and that will not be shown to the U.S. Congress.

RELATED: RNC Blasts ‘Clinton-Obama Iran Deal’

Second, Congress passed the Corker-Cardin bill, which enables it to pass a resolution of disapproval barring the president from waiving sanctions imposed by Congress against Iran. However, this law, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, allows a resolution of disapproval to be filibustered and vetoed. This means that a minority of Congress can stop Congress from disapproving the Iran deal.

My friend Andrew McCarthy wrote at National Review last April that Corker-Cardin “is worth less than nothing” because it set up a deeply flawed process that turned the Constitution on its head. Agreements of this importance are supposed to be submitted as treaties and ratified by a two-thirds vote of the U.S. Senate.

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I regularly come across opponents of the Iran deal who agree with McCarthy and intensely hate Corker-Cardin. I think it is clear now that this bill was a mistake on the part of Senate and House leaders, since it enables the president to create the false impression that the Iran deal has the approval of the U.S. Congress. It doesn’t, obviously. Mr. Obama’s ramming through the Iran deal using this approach will have significant implications for America’s global reputation and the Democratic party.

#share#First, it is no secret to nations around the world that most Americans hate the Iran deal. America’s enemies and allies alike see a president planning to implement a deeply unpopular agreement that they know will be torn up on January 20, 2017, if a Republican wins the White House next year. As a result, in addition to his other foreign-policy blunders, Mr. Obama’s mishandling of the Iran nuclear issue at home will further undermine America’s reputation for being a reliable ally and negotiating partner.

Popular opposition to the Iran deal rose throughout the summer even as the president scraped up enough support in the Senate to sustain a veto.

Second, while this week many mainstream media outlets ran stories claiming that opponents of the Iran deal “lost” because they did not persuade more Democrats to oppose it, those reports are misleading. The Iran deal is far more unpopular in the United States than it was when the summer began. Large rallies against the deal have been held across the United States. (I spoke to a huge rally of angry opponents of the Iran deal on September 1 in New York City, outside Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office.) Groups supportive of the Iran agreement were active over the summer, but many were led by far-left outfits such as and engaged in reprehensible attacks on the deal’s opponents, calling them traitors and singling out Jewish members of Congress to question their loyalty to the United States.

As a result, popular opposition to the Iran deal rose throughout the summer even as the president scraped up enough support in the Senate to sustain a veto.

This is not a good situation for the Democratic party. Last week, Democratic pollster Pat Caddell told WND radio:

I do not understand at this point how Democratic senators and congressmen can say they are going to vote for something which the vast majority of Americans oppose, including a goodly percentage of their party. . . . The American people see a Democratic party [that] puts what the president wants over the interests of the nation. . . . This attempt to drag the Democratic party into becoming, instead of the voice of the common people, the voice of entitled elites is unacceptable to me and many Democrats.

I know from sources in Congress that the White House and Democratic congressional leaders put almost unprecedented pressure on Democratic members to support the Iran deal. Some Democrats were told they have no future in Congress if they did not support the deal. I am sure that many Democratic members extracted huge concessions in exchange for their support.

RELATED: Obama: Tougher on Congress than on Khamenei

Eventually there will be a day of reckoning for Democratic lawmakers who sided against the majority of the American people on the Iran nuclear agreement. When the Democratic officeholders who voted for it are up for reelection, President Obama and the far-left groups currently supporting the deal will be of no help defending them. Large numbers of Democratic legislators could be defeated for supporting the Iran deal if, as I believe likely, Iran violates the pact before the next congressional elections.

While the Obama administration is today celebrating its achievement of having convinced a small number of senators to support the Iran nuclear agreement, it has also created a major issue for Republicans to use against incumbent Democrats in the future. Democratic lawmakers should recognize that and change their position on the deeply flawed Iran deal.

#related#This is a pivotal moment for the Republican party, especially the Republican presidential candidates. Republicans have to hold accountable Democrats who voted for the Iran deal by hammering home the theme that Democratic members of Congress are helping President Obama ram through a dangerous and deeply flawed diplomatic agreement that most Americans oppose.

But more important, Republicans need a plan to deal with the extensive damage President Obama has done to U.S. national security, not just concerning the Iranian nuclear program. To protect American liberty and security, we need to restore America as a decisive superpower with a foreign policy the world respects and the American people support. That will be the most important task for the next president, and we need to hear from the Republican presidential candidates detailed proposals for how they plan to accomplish it.

Fred Fleitz, president of the Center for Security Policy, served in 2018 as deputy assistant to the president and to the chief of staff of the National Security Council. He previously held national-security jobs with the CIA, the DIA, the Department of State, and the House Intelligence Committee staff. He is the editor of the 2020 book Defending against Biothreats.


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