Quote: "The Obama administration was forced to play defense on Monday after lawmakers in both parties criticized its decision to let the United Nations — not Congress — have the first say on the Iran nuclear deal.
pounced on the decision following the U.N. Security Council’s 15-0
vote, arguing the White House was giving short shrift to congressional
assent in a rush to build international support for the agreement.
White House appeared to hope that the U.N. vote would build pressure on
Congress to back the deal, but the strategy risked backfiring, with
some Democrats scolding the administration for the decision.Rep.
Eliot Engel (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee,
joined panel Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) in a statement saying they
were “disappointed” that the U.N. Security Council voted “before
Congress was able to fully review and act on this agreement.”
“Regardless of this morning’s outcome, Congress will continue to play its role,” they added.
Administration officials fought back, countering that lawmakers still have two months to make up their minds.
“No ability of the Congress has been impinged on,” Secretary of State John Kerry insisted on Monday.
claimed that the administration was between a rock and a hard place.
Either the White House risked getting flak at home, he said, or Iran and
the other negotiating nations would balk at the idea of holding their
landmark international agreement hostage to one country’s legislature.
some of these other countries were quite resistant to the idea, as
sovereign nations, that they were subject to the United States
Congress,” Kerry said.
“When you’re negotiating with six other
countries, it does require, obviously, a measure of sensitivity and
multilateral cooperation that has to take into account other nations’
Most of the criticism on Monday came from Republicans eager to criticize the administration’s handling of the Iranian issue.
John Cornyn (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, called the U.N.
action “an affront to the American people” and accused the White House
of “jamming this deal through” without proper congressional scrutiny.
Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is running for the White House, used the
phrase “capitulation Monday,” pointing to both the Iran vote and Cuba’s
opening of a U.S. Embassy in Washington.
“This is a bad start for a bad deal,” said Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Monday morning’s U.N. vote came just hours after the State Department formally sent the Iran deal to Congress to be reviewed.
such a consequential vote just 24 hours after submitting the agreement
documents to Congress undermines our national security and violates the
spirit of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act,” Boehner said,
referring to the law giving Congress 60 days to review and decide
whether or not to condemn the deal.
Congress can vote to block the
deal in September, but Republicans would have to win over at least 13
Democrats in the Senate — and dozens in the House — to override a
The administration has sought to win support
from the public and Democrats in Congress for the deal, while
Republicans are busily working to turn people away from the deal — and
make any votes for Democrats difficult.
Senate Foreign Relations
Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) — who last week sent a letter
along with the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.), asking
President Obama to postpone the U.N. vote — also criticized Monday’s
“It is inappropriate to commit the United States to meet
certain international obligations without even knowing if Congress and
the American people approve or disapprove of the Iran agreement,” he
said. “During the review period, members on both sides of the aisle will
evaluate the agreement carefully, press the administration for answers
and then vote their conscience.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer
(Md.), the second-ranking House Democrat, also has said that the United
Nations vote should have been delayed.
Over the next eight days, top administration officials will make multiple visits to Capitol Hill to reassure lawmakers.
Wednesday, Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Energy Secretary Ernest
Moniz and an unnamed “senior intelligence official” will give separate
classified briefings for all members of the House and Senate.
Lew and Moniz will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee the following day, and then Kerry and Moniz will meet with
House Democrats that afternoon.
The three secretaries will return to the House Foreign Affairs Committee next Tuesday.
an indication that the administration continues to be serious about the
responsibility we have to make sure members of Congress have the
information they need to consider this agreement over the course of the
next 60 days,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.
was evident that the White House would try to use Monday’s Security
Council endorsement to rally members of Congress — especially Democrats —
to its side.
In brief remarks from the Oval Office, Obama said
that the vote “will send a clear message that the overwhelming number of
countries who not only participated in the deal ... but who have
observed what’s happened, recognize that this is by far our strongest
approach to ensuring that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon.
“My working assumption is that Congress will pay attention to the broad-based consensus,” he added.
Obama administration also appears eager to claim that a 90-day grace
period between the U.N. Security Council vote on Monday and the time
sanctions against Iran can begin to be lifted leaves more than enough
time for Congress to act.
That 90-day window “is specifically to allow Congress ample time to conduct their review of the agreement,” Earnest said." Go to: http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/248589-un-backs-iran-deal-infuriating-lawmakers