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Putting an End to Congress’ Meddling on the Nuclear Deal

William Galston wrings his hands about a likely filibuster of the resolution of disapproval on the nuclear deal:

But let me pose a hopelessly old-fashioned question: Even if Democrats could get away with this ploy, would it be the right thing to do?

I think not. The proposed deal with Iran represents one of the most significant U.S. foreign-policy shifts in many years. Its supporters, of whom I am one, should stand up and be counted—all the more so if they have been elected and sent to Washington to make such judgments.

This is a fairly silly objection. The forty-two Democrats in the Senate that have declared for the deal have already stood up and been counted, and some of them have done so in the face of huge anti-deal ad buys in their home states. That has been the whole point of getting them to declare their positions publicly before the vote. Observers have been carefully counting the number of pro-deal Democrats for the last several weeks, and today the supporters of the deal received enough support to be able to block a resolution disapproving of the deal.

Since that’s the case, it makes no sense for supporters to allow a bad resolution to proceed when a vote on it can only reflect poorly on Congress and the U.S. Dragging out the process just gives Iran hawks a little more time to do whatever they can to throw wrenches into the works, and that is unnecessary and undesirable. The resolution will fail one way or another, whether by a procedural rule or by presidential veto, so the final outcome won’t change. Nonetheless, it would definitely be preferable if Congress wasn’t seen passing a resolution expressing opposition to the agreement. If we’re talking about what “the right thing to do” is, we should be reexamining the assumption that Congress has a role in this process. The truth is that Congress’ involvement with the nuclear deal has been wholly negative, and it would have been better had the administration never agreed to the Corker-Cardin legislation in the first place. Since it did, no one should start complaining now about a procedural maneuver that the Corker-Cardin bill permits.

Besides, it’s not as if the deal’s opponents will be satisfied with having their vote. Iran hawks are already preparing for the next round of attempting to undermine the deal by attacking its implementation:

Republican lawmakers are considering their options for stopping implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, despite President Barack Obama on Tuesday winning enough Democratic support to ensure the international agreement survives congressional review.

Galston talks about the importance of taking responsibility for one’s positions, but deal opponents are happy to have things both ways by being able to cast a vote against the deal that they know will have no consequences. There is nothing wrong in depriving Iran hawks of a vote that they want to cast primarily for fundraising and campaigning purposes. Indeed, it would be an absurd own goal for supporters of the deal to let the resolution proceed when they have enough votes to block it.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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