Senate Republicans – and some Democrats as well – claim the Obama administration is about to leapfrog Congress by asking the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to approve the nuclear deal with Iran before letting Congress review it and decide whether it wants to approve it.
According to The Hill, the issue is uniting Republican senators, including Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) – but that democrats like Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) are also unhappy about Obama's move.
Thune urged the administration to hold off on the UNSC vote. Doing otherwise, he said, would show that “the president holds the opinion of the United Nations in higher esteem than the American people.”
Cruz is “threatening to block nominees and funding for the State Department unless the administration prevents the U.N. Security Council from voting on the resolution on the nuclear deal,” The Hill reported.
Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), who is competing aginst Cruz and others for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, suggested that Obama is taking the deal to the UNSC first because he knows Congress will ultimately reject the deal.
“It’s a clear sign that he knows if this deal is reviewed closely by the American people, it will be rejected,” Rubio said. “We cannot allow America's security to be outsourced to the United Nations.”
Cardin teams up with Corker
The administration’s move may even antagonize Corker, who is among the few Senate Republicans who are still undecided on the Iran deal. He called the decision to take the resolution to the United Nations “an affront to Congress.”
“This is exactly what we were trying to stop,” he said, referring to the legislation passed earlier this year forcing the administration to let Congress vote on the deal before it is finalized.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, is now reportedly teaming up with Corker to ask Obama to hold off on the Security Council vote, suggesting that the UN move contradicts the president’s promise to allow Congress and the American people review the deal.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said that the move "does create a very awkward dynamic in which the Security Council is going to unwind a set of sanctions that are deeply intertwined with the congressional set of sanctions."
Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) said the move makes it seem like the administration “always intended to bypass Congress by moving through the United Nations.”
In the House, too, Republicans have been attacking Obama's decision. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an interview with "Lou Dobbs Tonight" that lawmakers would try to block Obama from lifting the arms embargo on Iran if he lets the UN vote on the deal before Congress does.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, said that waiting to take the deal to the UN until after Congress has voted "would be consistent with the intent and substance" of the review legislation.
The administration argues there’s nothing in the Iran deal that requires congressional approval before the international community can act.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Friday said the international body is showing “significant deference” to Congress by postponing implementation of the order for 90 days. The delay would allow lawmakers “ample opportunity” to review the deal, Earnest said.
Wendy Sherman, the State Department’s undersecretary for political affairs, suggested that the administration was under pressure from the other countries involved in the talks to go to the UN as soon as possible.
“It would have been a little difficult when all of the members of the P5+1 wanted to go to the United Nations to get an endorsement of this… for us to say, ‘well excuse me, the world, you should wait for the United States Congress,’” she told reporters at a State Department briefing.
The report on The Hill was extensively quoted in Iran's semi-official Press TV.