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Ace of Spades points out a GOP pattern: They construct a compromise with the White House that gives Obama all the power he requests and then pretend to vote against it, so that “they can then they go home to their districts and states and say ‘we did everything we could to stop him, but by jiminy, we just couldn’t manage it.'”
Do you remember how Mitch McConnell schemed to increase the debt limit, while suckering conservatives with a claim that conservatives voted against it?
The scheme worked like this: Congress authorized the president to increase the debt limit on his authority. (Actually, we’re already at the stage of falsehood, because he wouldn’t be raising the debt limit on his own authority, but with the authority Congress had just voted him.)
Now, the deal also granted, supposedly, Congress the power to block the raising of the debt limit, by voting a “resolution of disapproval.”
But here’s the thing: The president can veto that.
Which is what he did, of course.
So the debt limit was raised in this way:
1. Republicans voted to give Obama the power to raise the debt limit. They didn’t take responsibility for this themselves; they just said Obama could do so, if he wanted.
2. But Republicans retain the right to “block” it, supposedly, with a vote of disapproval.
3. But which Obama can veto — which every Republican knows he will do.
4. McConnell, Corker, and all the other other con artists now get to claim they didn’t raise the debt limit. Heck, they even voted a Resolution of Disapproval against it.
What they don’t tell you is that this had been designed from the start to pass the debt limit increase, with a fake Resolution of Disapproval voted on and vetoed, which had been planned from the start, so that they could lie and say they “voted against” the increase in the debt limit.
A nuclear Iran would be a threat that is similarly transformative. To know that, we need only listen to the White House tut-tutting about how “unrealistic” it would be to expect the mullahs to renounce their support for terrorism in exchange for sanctions relief. …
So Beltway Republicans are ready to put up a fight, right? About as much of a fight, it seems, as they were ready to make against mounting debt. Cravenly elevating their own political interest over the national interest, many on the GOP side of the political class calculate that it is more important to avoid blame for frustrating Obama — this time, on his delusional Iran deal — than to succeed in actually frustrating Obama.
But alas, that annoying Constitution is again an obstacle to shirking accountability. It does not empower the president to make binding agreements with foreign countries all on his own — on the theory that the American people should not take on enforceable international obligations or see their sovereignty compromised absent approval by the elected representatives most directly accountable to them.
Thus, the Constitution mandates that no international agreement can be binding unless it achieves either of two forms of congressional endorsement: a) super-majority approval by two-thirds of the Senate (i.e., 67 aye votes), or b) enactment through the normal legislative process, meaning passage by both chambers under their burdensome rules, then signature by the president.
The Corker bill is a ploy to circumvent this constitutional roadblock. That is why our post-sovereign, post-constitutional president has warmed to it. Because it would require the president to submit any Iran deal to Congress, it is drawing plaudits for toughness. But like McConnell’s debt legerdemain, it’s a con job. Once the deal is submitted, Congress would have 60 days (or perhaps as few as 30 days) to act. If within that period both houses of Congress failed to enact a resolution of disapproval, the agreement would be deemed legally binding — meaning that the sanctions the Iranian regime is chafing under would be lifted. …
To summarize, the Constitution puts the onus on the president to find 67 Senate votes to approve an international agreement, making it virtually impossible to ratify an ill-advised deal. The Corker bill puts the onus on Congress to muster 67 votes to block an agreement.
Under the Constitution, Obama’s Iran deal would not have a prayer. Under the Corker bill, it would sail through. And once again, it would be Republicans first ensuring that self-destruction is imposed on us, then striking the pose of dogged opponents by casting futile nay votes.
This is not how our system works. Congress is supposed to make the laws we live under. … That a lawless president would undertake to eviscerate these constraints is to be expected. But is he really much worse than an entrenched political class that anxiously forfeits its powers to stop him?
Or, as Jack Nicholson once said about the Ruling Class: