Who needs Congress anyway? David Sanger of the Times reports that Team Obama is strategizing to "suspend" Iranian sanctions rather than end them, therby sidestepping any need for action by Congress. No word on whether this will follow or precede executive action on immigration.
Obama Sees an Iran Deal That Could Avoid Congress
WASHINGTON — No one knows if the Obama administration will manage in the next five weeks to strike what many in the White House consider the most important foreign policy deal of his presidency: an accord with Iranthat would forestall its ability to make a nuclear weapon. But the White House has made one significant decision: If agreement is reached, President Obama will do everything in his power to avoid letting Congress vote on it.
Even while negotiators argue over the number of centrifuges Iran would be allowed to spin and where inspectors could roam, the Iranians have signaled that they would accept, at least temporarily, a “suspension” of the stringent sanctions that have drastically cut their oil revenues and terminated their banking relationships with the West, according to American and Iranian officials. The Treasury Department, in a detailed study it declined to make public, has concluded Mr. Obama has the authority to suspend the vast majority of those sanctions without seeking a vote by Congress, officials say.
But Mr. Obama cannot permanently terminate those sanctions. Only Congress can take that step. And even if Democrats held on to the Senate next month, Mr. Obama’s advisers have concluded they would probably lose such a vote.
This part of the strategy seems to involve a bit of fantasy:
White House officials say Congress should not be surprised by this plan. They point to testimony earlier this year when top negotiators argued that the best way to assure that Iran complies with its obligations is a step-by-step suspension of sanctions — with the implicit understanding that the president could turn them back on as fast as he turned them off.
“We have been clear that initially there would be suspension of any of the U.S. and international sanctions regime, and that the lifting of sanctions will only come when the I.A.E.A. verifies that Iran has met serious and substantive benchmarks,” Bernadette Meehan, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said Friday, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency. “We must be confident that Iran’s compliance is real and sustainable over a period of time.”
The President can turn the European sanctions back on? Hmm, with their economies fading, I have the idea that once sanctions are suspended our European allies will find billions of reasons to keep them suspended.
Jennifer Rubin of the WaPo has more on the bad deal coming down the tracks.