Wednesday, April 8, 2015

When it Comes to Congress, Don't Mistake Heat for Light

I'm going to go out on a bit of a limb and disagree with two of my favorite pundits: Greg Sargent and Steve Benen. They are both suggesting that there is a big difference between how Congress handled President Obama's proposed ISIS AUMF and the potential deal with Iran over their nuclear weapons program. Here is Sargent's take after a conversation with Senator Chris Murphy.
The debate is intensifying in Congress over what lawmakers should do to place limits on President Obama’s authority to implement a deal with major world powers and Iran over the future of that country’s nuclear program. This is as it should be.

At the same time, however, the discussion among lawmakers has vanished entirely on another topic related to Obama’s authority to carry out foreign policy: Whether Congress will vote to limit Obama’s authority to wage war against ISIS...

“There’s clearly a double-standard,” Murphy argues. “Congress wants to be all over his diplomatic engagement, while appearing eager at times to stand aside when he intervenes militarily.”
It's true that there is a lot more talk coming from Congress about the Iran deal than there was about the ISIS AUMF. If that were the only criteria to be concerned about, I'd agree that there is a double standard.

But what Sargent, Benen and Sen. Murphy seem to assume is that all that talk will lead to some kind of action by Congress on the Iran deal. So I have to ask the question: Based on what we've seen from this Congress so far, how likely do you think that is? In other words, how probable is it that all that talk will actually result in some walk when it comes to legislation? Will actual bills on the Iran deal get any farther than the ones on the AUMF did?

Sargent's very next post does a good job of pointing out that those questions are pretty far from being answered in the affirmative. He links to an article that discusses the growing number of Democratic defections from the bill that is often referred to as "Corker/Menendez" - which would give Congress 60 days to review the deal.

I tend to avoid the whole arena of political fortune-telling. The truth is that we don't know yet what Congress might actually do/not do about the Iran deal. The one thing I DO know is that there are an awful lot of members of Congress who are good at talking. When it comes to actually compromising to get legislation passed, their record is abysmal.

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