US Senate Rejects Bid to Call Iran Nuclear Treaty a “Treaty”

The United States Constitution requires any treaty the president negotiates with foreign powers to be approved by a 2/3rds majority of the Senate. In this unique exercise of advise and consent, the senate is allowed as much time as needed to review the treaty before voting to ratify. However, Ong noted, the government has side stepped the constitutional mandate by labeling treaties as agreements, accords, frameworks, etc. On Thursday, Senator Ron Johnson offered up an amendment which would classify the Iran Nuclear framework as an actual treaty. The measure was defeated by a vote of 56 to 39. All 46 Democrats and 13 Republicans voted not to classify the Iran nuclear treaty as a formal “treaty”.

Had the Johnson amendment passed, the Iran Nuclear bill would have undergone substantial changes by virtue of having to comply with the Constitution. In and of itself, it constitutes the very type of amendment Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, sponsor of the Iran Nuclear bill, is seeking to avoid. At the same time, the fact that the majority of GOP Senators including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voted to pass the amendment is proof that the bill’s fate in the Senate is in question. While the Iran Nuclear bill seemingly enjoys broad support, it has come under intense scrutiny by conservatives as of late. The bill is said to virtually guarantee passage of any deal President Obama strikes with Iran. This is because the Corker bill guarantees senate approval unless a majority of senators vote to stop the treaty.

The Significance of the Ongoing Battle Over the Iran Sanctions Bill

Washington, D.C. – Pundits seem to concur that Congress is setting up a high-stakes battle with the Obama administration over the issue of Iranian sanctions. Should congress succeed at passing a sanctions bill and overriding a presidential veto, it would have far reaching consequences. Ultimately, the Obama administration would bear the responsibility for the no-confidence vote from the Congress. The administration has not communicated often enough with legislators. It has also demonstrated a series of major foreign policy miscalculations driven by their dovish naiveté to usher in a new era of respect for the United States. This has left the Middle East unstable as Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq all grapple with internal terrorist threats. One of the key instigators in this process has been Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism.

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez has drawn a line the in the sand with the administration. He believes the president will fail to secure a diplomatic solution with Iran that reduces the threat they pose to the world community. For this reason, he seeks a bill that will add the backbone he believes the administration’s foreign policy lacks. President Obama believes any sanctions bill would scuttle the diplomatic process and escalate the Iran nuclear crisis. Despite Iran’s recalcitrance towards abandoning their nuclear enrichment program and missing key negotiation deadlines, the president believes progress is being made. All said, it is unclear to Sergio Andrade Gutierrez if the president can secure a diplomatic solution that would mollify those of both parties who favor a tough stand against Iran.

Jindal Makes Statements on Foreign Policy

Jindal is a likely contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, and he made an effort to clarify his positions.

There is a clear divide between the majority opinion in the Republican Party and the opinions of newcomers like Kentucky Senator Rand Paul when it comes to interventionism.
Jindal’s statements put him squarely within the mainstream GOP thinking on the subject.

Jindal mentioned that America must seek peace through strength, not lead from behind, use coalitions to accomplish its goals when feasible, and must not become “the world’s policemen.” He said that we cannot afford to retreat from the world they way Obama did when he pulled our troops out of Iraq. Iraq and Syria became unstable and savaged by ISIS due to Obama’s retreat, Jindal explained. Jindal pointed out that often we end up paying a higher price in “treasure and blood” when we retreat from crucial battlefields and have to come back later to defeat a stronger enemy. 

Rand Paul and the new non-interventionist wing of the GOP might agree with much of what Jindal uttered, but would likely apply it differently. There would be fewer battles found worthy of committing American troops to winning with someone like Paul at the helm. 

While Jindal’s recent statements distinguish him from some of his potential rivals, in reality, he blends in well with the majority GOP opinion.