Republicans, White House spar over Iran in open
Washington: The fight between Republicans, which have a majority in the Congress, and the White House over Iran’s controversial nuclear programme came out in the open today with 47 Republican Senators writing a letter to the Iranian leadership to scuttle any potential deal on the issue.
The White House and the top Democratic Party leadership in the Congress alleged that by doing so the Republicans have sought to not only bypass the US President, but also undermine the prestige of American presidency.
“It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system. Thus, we are writing to bring to your attention two features of our Constitution — the power to make binding international agreements and the different character of federal offices — which you should seriously consider as negotiations progress,” the 47 Senators wrote in an open letter to the Iranian leadership.
“First, under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them. In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a two-thirds vote,” the letter said.
“A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate). Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement,” they wrote.
The Senators said, “Second, the offices of our Constitution have different characteristics. For example, the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms. As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then—perhaps decades.”
They asserted that what these two constitutional provisions mean is that the Senators will consider any agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons programme that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Barack Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei.
The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time, the Senators wrote.
US Vice President, reacting to the letter, said, “The letter sent on March 9th by forty-seven Republican Senators to the Islamic Republic of Iran, expressly designed to undercut a sitting President in the midst of sensitive international negotiations, is beneath the dignity of an institution I revere.”