Senator Marco Rubio is skeptical of Obama administration promises to “consult” Congress before signing a nuclear deal with Iran, saying the White House promised similar consultations months before a sudden and unilateral policy change scrapping the Cuban embargo last month.
The Florida Republican grilled Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Wednesday at a Senate Foreign Affairs committee hearing about ongoing Iranian negotiations.
“Secretary Blinken, much of this debate here today has been about the role of Congress and our need to trust in the ability of the administration to craft a good deal, and in the fact that we’re going to be consulted,” Rubio began. The senator noted that during Blinken’s last appearance before the committee, the secretary had promised “full consultation — with the real meaning of the word consultation.”
“Who did the administration consult with, on this committee, before it announced the changes on the 17th of December?” Rubio asked.
Blinken admitted he did “not live up to the standard he set in that hearing” and that he “could’ve done a better job of engaging with you, and consulting with you, in advance.”
Chairman Bob Corker interjected to say he also had not been consulted before the Cuba change. Former Democratic chairman Bob Menendez added he also was kept in the dark. “To be notified when it’s going to happen is not consultation,” he said.
“And why it’s relevant to Iran is, we’re being asked to trust that we’re going to be fully consulted,” Rubio said. “The use of the word ‘consultation,’ as it’s been defined by the administration in the last instance I’ve just cited, is problematic.”
“We’re being asked as a Congress to sit tight, because we’re going to be fully consulted,” the senator continued. “And it sounds like the only people who are going to be fully consulted are the people who agree with the administration. And if you don’t agree with the administration, you’re just going to be notified.”