National Security & Defense

The Corner

The Geraghty Plan Doesn’t Guarantee Success. But What Does?

There are few things more unnerving than the thought that “the Geraghty plan” might be the best option for derailing the Iran deal. To recap:

To stop Iran’s nukes, use our own nuclear option. Scrap the filibuster, pass a resolution declaring the Iran deal a treaty that requires Senate authorization, introduce the text of the Iran deal, and vote it down.

Remember, Democrats got rid of the filibuster for nominations in 2013, arguing that GOP obstructionism was interfering with the president’s constitutional authority to make judicial appointments. The Constitution requires Senatorial consent to treaties. The administration claims the Iran deal isn’t a treaty because they think it has “become physically impossible“ to pass a treaty in the Senate.

Skeptics like my friend Guy Benson point out that President Obama will veto any resolution or legislation declaring the Iran deal a treaty. They’ll point out that a Senate vote rejecting it might be useful symbolically, but won’t actually create any legal roadblock.

If the Senate formally rejects the text of the Iran deal by voting on it as a treaty, it would at least set up a court fight as to whether the Iran deal is settled law or not; the Obama administration insists it’s in effect, but Congress rejected it (hopefully by a wide margin). Smarter minds than mine have pointed out that the Supreme Court usually gives the presidency wide latitude to determine what’s a treaty and what’s just an “executive agreement” not requiring Senate ratification. Still, when the biggest foreign policy change in decades comes from a formal written agreement between the United States, Iran, and several other countries . . . well, if it walks like a treaty, swims like a treaty, and quacks like a treaty, then it’s probably a treaty. And who knows what mood Justices Roberts and Kennedy will be in if and when the argument comes before them.

In the interim, Congress can pass legislation declaring that because the Iran deal was rejected by the legislative branch, the Iran sanctions are still in effect and the legal penalties for violating them are still in place. Any American company contemplating new economic ties to Iran should pay a hefty price in the court of public opinion.

Between the Republican presidential candidates pledging to tear up the Iran deal on their first day in office and Congress declaring that the Iran deal is null and void because of its formal rejection by the Senate, you might create enough legal uncertainty to make some companies a little wary about jumping into bed with Iran; at the very least, they may want to wait until 2017 to see if the deal continues past that year.

Maybe none of this works. If you think the eventual consequence of the Iranian nuclear deal is this . . . 

. . . or this . . .

. . . then you have to pull out all the stops.

Separately, some Republicans still don’t like the idea of removing the filibuster. I find it fascinating that they think Democrats won’t eliminate the filibuster the next time they have a Senate majority; remember, not long ago Harry Reid already eliminated the filibuster for all executive-branch nominees and judicial nominations other than to the Supreme Court.

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