As we reach the round number of 10 in this series of email reports by Omri Ceren from Vienna, we approach the catastrophic conclusion that has been implicit from the beginning. Omni writes:
And here we go…
VIENNA (AP) — Diplomats say negotiators at the Iran nuclear talks are expected to reach a provisional agreement Sunday on a historic deal that would curb the country’s atomic program in return for sanctions relief. Two diplomats at the talks tell The Associated Press the envisioned accord will be sent to capitals for review and, barring last-minute objections, be announced on Monday. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the negotiations publicly. The agreement would cap nearly a decade of diplomacy, including the current round in Vienna that has run more than two weeks and blown through three deadlines.
Presumably more details will leak as reporters start to hunt down details, but it looks like a done deal.
Congress will now have 60 days to review the agreement, and lawmakers will be specifically looking for how the Obama administration managed to overcome the final issues that held up a deal over the last two weeks: anytime/anywhere inspections including access to military sites, the IAEA’s concerns over the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program, and the Iranian/Russian demand that the United Nations arms embargo against Tehran be lifted.
Based on how negotiations have progressed since mid-March – Iranian intransigence followed by repeated American collapses on nearly every core issue – it’s unlikely that Congress will like what it finds. Mitch McConnell predicted this morning on Fox News Sunday that the deal will be “a very hard sell in Congress.”
The Corker legislation allows lawmakers to introduce a resolution of disapproval, introduce a resolution of approval, or do nothing.
A resolution of approval would be loaded with symbolism. It would most likely be introduced and then voted down: a rebuke by a co-equal branch of the U.S. federal government of inarguably the most important diplomatic gamble in decades. But it wouldn’t have any legal force.
A resolution of disapproval would carry all of the symbolism of a failed resolution of approval, but it would also prohibit the President from lifting some sanctions. The trick is that the President would have the ability to veto it, and then Congress would have to override that veto. There may be enough worried Democrats in the Senate to get to 67, but the conventional wisdom is that the White House retains sufficient political capital to prevent 290 votes in the House (there are simply too many safe seats where the general elections don’t matter, and members’ existence relies on not getting primaried – and the President is still the most powerful force in the Democratic party).
In any case, this will be the next 60 days in Washington DC.