Lawmakers in Congress are taking sides for an upcoming vote on the Iranian nuclear deal. The political process was set up last April, when an alliance of Republican and Democratic Senators passed bipartisan legislation requiring any executive agreement reached between the United States and Iran to come to Congress for review. Usually, executive agreements are not subject to Congressional review or approval. But in this case, Congress need not approve the agreement, but may decide to reject it.
The approach has created some interesting political dynamics. While the United Nations and most American allies–with the notable exception of Israel–have welcomed the agreement as a powerful step forward that places real limits on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Congressional Republicans have argued that the agreement does too little to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons while simultaneously granting too much relief to the Iranian government.
Because of the way the review legislation was structured, President Obama need only secure one-third of Congress voting to approve the new agreement. Remember that Congress must pass legislation to reject the agreement. If the vote falls strictly along party lines, Congress will pass such legislation, which President Obama could veto. Without strong support from Congressional Democrats, the Republican Congress would be unable to override President Obama’s veto. President Obama’s strategy thus appears to focus on maintaining the support of moderate Democrats, many of whom have already said they will back the President. Already, most key leaders have expressed support for the President, with the notable exception of Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who has said he will vote to reject the agreement. This announcement sparked a response from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, a noted foreign policy export.
What do you think? Should Congress reject the proposed agreement on Iran’s nuclear program? If so, what alternative strategy would you suggest for addressing Iran’s nuclear ambitions?