Sen McCain: Iran pact “in every aspect, a treaty” requiring Senate consent–and his bill that says the opposite

In an excellent post on Wednesday, my colleague David Golove dives deep into the constitutional requirements for a nuclear agreement with Iran. David’s analysis suggests that–as a constitutional matter–the President likely needs affirmative congressional support to enter such an agreement. And here’s the kicker for pending legislation: David shows that the Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act of 2014 (S.2650) paradoxically has the opposite effect of what its authors intend – the bill suggests the President does not need congressional approval.

To drive home the significance of David’s argument, consider the following statement by Sen. John McCain, one of the original co-sponsors of the Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act. In the midst of a recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Iran, Sen. McCain took 30 seconds to interrupt the flow of the hearing to make the following clear and important statement:

“Mr. Chairman, it has become obvious to me and even more obvious in the hearing here today that this is really, in every aspect, a treaty that is being considered with Iran. And I believe it requires the advice and consent of the United States Senate. And I hope we can move forward with legislation that would require that.”

Here’s the video clip:

 

 

Filed under:
About the Author(s)

Ryan Goodman

Co-Editor-in-Chief of Just Security, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, former Special Counsel to the General Counsel of the Department of Defense (2015-2016). You can follow him on Twitter @rgoodlaw.