[mc_name name=’Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001071′ ] has authored a bill to hand President Obama the Imperium Magnum—in Rome it was called “dictator”—in regards to his caplituating “deal” with Iran. In doing so, he has not only trashed the Constitution, but also the Senate’s own rules, bestowing an authority never intended for the chief executive to possess.
The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has authority, by Senate Rule XXX, to act upon treaties, but Corker, along with [mc_name name=’Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000639′ ] and 91%-certain-to-be-running-for-president [mc_name name=’Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’G000359′ ], have come up with a scheme to make it appear as if the Senate opposed Obama’s nuclear dalliance with Iran’s regime, while actually being bridesmaids to the espousal.
And of course, Obama himself has signaled he’s willing to sign the instrument of his nomination as dictator. The Constitution, sadly for Corker and his consigliere, stands in the way of this travesty, but who cares about the Constitution lately? Andrew C. McCarthy laments:
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. It is the first branch of government, not a rubber-stamping Supreme Soviet.
Not only does Corker’s Iran bill despoil the Constitution, it also ignores the Senate’s own rules. The Congressional Research Service does great work keeping track of such intricate procedural particulars.
The Foreign Relations Committee can order the treaty reported back to the Senate—favorably, unfavorably, or without recommendation—or, instead, decline to act on the treaty. If the committee does not act on the treaty, it is not automatically returned to the President. Treaties, unlike bills and other legislative measures, remain available to the Senate from one Congress to the next until they are disposed or the Senate agrees to return them to the President. Paragraph 2 of Rule XXX states in part that “all proceedings on treaties shall terminate with the Congress, and they shall be resumed at the commencement of the next Congress as if no proceedings had previously been had thereon.” Thus, if the Foreign Relations Committee fails to report a treaty before the end of a Congress, the treaty remains before the committee during the next Congress. If the committee has reported a treaty, but the Senate has not completed floor consideration of it when the Congress ends, the treaty is recommitted to the committee, and the committee must report it again before the Senate may consider it on the floor.
Nowhere does CRS report that the Senate can simply grant carte blanche to the president. Ahh, but it’s not the Senate, it’s both the House and the Senate which together are betraying the Constitution. McCarthy again:
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. (emphasis mine)
So, Congress wants to pass a bill authorizing the president to submit a treaty to Congress, and it’s automatically approved, without consideration, unless Congress acts to block it.
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.
Even ancient Rome realized that the powers of a dictator should be limited—the Roman Senate generally granted six month appointments, but what Corker has proposed to give Obama as dictator seems chillingly similar to Rome’s system.
Unlike the Consuls, who were required to cooperate with the Senate, the Dictator could act on his own authority without the Senate, though the Dictator would usually act in unison with the Senate all the same. There was no appeal from the sentence of the Dictator (unless the dictator changed his mind), and accordingly the lictors bore the axes in the fasces before them, even in the city, as a symbol of their absolute power over the lives of the citizens.
It’s no wonder that the Fasces on the House floor have axes, but we never expected them to be employed so literally.