I don’t understand the enthusiasm with which the Corker-Menendez legislation is being greeted, now that President Obama has agreed to sign it. Under the Constitution, treaties need to be approved by a super-majority (two-thirds) to be effective. Obama’s deal with Iran is a treaty, whatever ever label he gives it.
Yet under Corker-Menendez, a two-thirds super-majority is required to block Obama’s treaty. As explained in Scott’s post:
The legislation prohibits the President from implementing the provisions of a deal immediately, and instead provides lawmakers with 30 days to review its details. If Congress acts to block the deal, the President will presumably veto that action, at which point lawmakers will have the remainder of the 52 days to try to override the veto.
Overriding the veto requires two-thirds of the vote. Thus, the Constitution has been turned on its head.
Senator Corker’s hope is that the need to prevent a veto override will induce the president to take a tougher bargaining position with Iran. It’s possible that this dynamic will produce a better deal, but only at the margin.
When push comes to shove, Obama will be confident that, with a few cosmetic improvements, he can line up enough Democratic support to meet the low thresholds necessary to sustain a veto. And I fear that Obama’s confidence will be justified.
Democratic legislators don’t want to be cut out of the proceedings altogether, by neither do they want to thwart and humiliate their leader. Corker-Menendez satisfies these twin concerns.
There’s no harm in the legislation. As Scott says, it doesn’t diminish Congress’ position. I’m just not convinced that Corker-Menendez meaningfully improves it.