Many Congressional Democrats, long over their deep concerns about George W. Bush's 'imperial' presidency, have taken to cheering on President Obama has he usurps and arrogates power in the name of "progress." This phenomenon was on full display as Democrats actively urged Obama to pull the trigger on his unilateral immigration fiat, which he'd repeatedly dismissed as illegal in the recent past (at least one federal court has since agreed). They similarly defended the president's various power grabs on Obamacare, including delaying and altering entire provisions of the law for political reasons, as well as appropriating billions in payments to insurance companies that Congress never authorized. But it seems as though a number of Democrats on the Hill do have a breaking point on executive overreach, with dozens siding with Republicans' position that any nuclear agreement with Iran must be submitted to the legislative branch. The White House has threatened to veto pending legislation that would affirm Congress' right to vote on an eventual Iranian agreement, but the list of Democrats who are publicly crossing Obama on that question is growing -- and now includes the man who is likely to succeed Harry Reid's role as leader after the 2016 elections:
Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, one of Capitol Hill’s most influential voices in the Iran nuclear debate, is strongly endorsing passage of a law opposed by President Barack Obama that would give Congress an avenue to reject the White House-brokered framework unveiled last week. The comments Monday by the Democratic leader-in-waiting illustrate the enormity of the task ahead for Obama and his team: While there’s no guarantee that Congress would ultimately reject an agreement with Iran, there’s an increasingly bipartisan consensus that Congress should at least have the ability to do so. “This is a very serious issue that deserves careful consideration, and I expect to have a classified briefing in the near future. I strongly believe Congress should have the right to disapprove any agreement and I support the Corker bill which would allow that to occur,” Schumer said in an emailed statement to POLITICO.
In March, 47 Republican Senators sparked intense liberal condemnation by signing an open letter to the Iranian regime admonishing them that an accord brokered and signed unilaterally by the president would lack the force of law upon Obama's departure from office in 2017. Despite the furor, it appears that a bipartisan consensus is emerging around that very point. According to the above Politico story, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) believes he is very close to securing the votes necessary to override a potential Obama veto of his legislation. Congress is likely to put any finalized deal with Iran under the microscope, as new questions arise about the contents of the framework announced last week. The Times of Israel reports that an internal French government memo indicates that the West made even more specific concessions to Tehran than were outlined in the State Department's fact sheet (upon which this analysis was based):
A French government fact sheet on the Iran framework deal, which has not been made public by Paris but which has been seen by The Times of Israel, provides for Iran to gradually introduce the use of advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium after 12 years, in contrast to the US official parameters, which make no such specific provision. The use of the more advanced IR-2 and IR-4 centrifuges, as permitted according to the French fact sheet, would enable Iran to more rapidly accumulate the highly enriched uranium needed to build nuclear weapons, accelerating its breakout time to the bomb...The French fact sheet also specifies that Iran will be allowed to continue R&D work on the advanced IR-4, IR-5, IR-6 and IR-8 centrifuges, the last of which can enrich uranium at 20-times the speed of Iran’s current IR-1 centrifuges, whereas the American parameters are less specific.
The French document also differs from the American version on the nature of IAEA's unfettered inspections inside Iran (more robust than indicated by the State Department), as well as the timing of sanctions relief -- an issue the skeptical editors of the Washington Post describe as crucial. Participants in this ongoing debate are still reeling from Obama's admission in an interview with NPR that the very proposal he's hailed as a "good deal" will likely pave the way for Iranian nuclear weapons within 13 years, as various restrictions sunset:
Iran could have the capabilities to build a nuclear bomb almost immediately after the first 13 years of the emerging nuclear deal, President Barack Obama acknowledged on Tuesday. House Speaker John Boehner reacted tersely, arguing that Obama had just confirmed what critics of the deal have long feared. Under the framework for a final deal, Iran would be kept at least a year away from a bomb for the first decade, Obama said, as he pressed ahead in his campaign to sell the deal to skeptics. Pushing back on criticism that the deal allows Iran to keep enriching uranium, Obama told NPR News that enrichment isn't the prime concern because Iran will be capped for a decade at 300 kilograms — not enough to convert to a stockpile of weapons-grade material. "What is a more relevant fear would be that in Year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point, the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero," Obama said.
Here, Obama confirms Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's contention that the agreement paves the way toward an Iranian nuclear bomb, cloaked in international legitimacy. Upon entering negotiations in 2012, Obama said he'd only accept a deal that ends Iran's nuclear program. He now appears to be conceding that the deal he's preparing to accept will lead not just to a continued Iranian nuclear program, but an Iranian nuclear arsenal.