WASHINGTON — California Rep. Brad Sherman warns that even if Congress were to override President Obama’s veto of the Iran deal, the president could still get the deal he wants.
Sherman, a Democrat who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, grilled Sec. of State John Kerry Tuesday over whether the administration would follow the law if Congress votes against the administration’s deal with Iran and overrides the president’s veto.
“So, you’re not committed to following the law if you think it’s a bad law?” Sherman asked.
“No,” Kerry said. “I said I’m not going to deal with a hypothetical, that’s all.”
Sherman later told reporters Wednesday that there were different options on the table that Obama could seriously consider if the Congress overrode his veto.
“First, he may simply announced that every bank that does business with Iran in accordance with the deal will not face the sanctions in the Menendez-Kirk amendment, as reinstated and strengthened by the Corker deal, as activated by the veto override. So, number one, ignore U.S. statute,” Sherman explained.
“Number two, he will tell the rest of the world to follow the deal and do business with Iran as specified in the deal, saying that is the reasonable thing to do.”
Sherman, who is currently undecided on the deal, went further to say that Obama could go to foreign countries and persuade their governments to mandate that their banks do business with Iran even if the banks are scared to do so to the full extent of the deal.
“He might go to foreign countries and say, ‘Look maybe your banks are reluctant to do business with the Iran, because they fear this Congress will somehow get them maybe they’ll need a little push, so I’ll speak to your parliament.’”
Eventually, Sherman explained, it will become more difficult for the next administration to undo what was just done.
“And so then the next president would be in a circumstance of saying, ‘Do we punish Italian banks, because they did what the last president asked them to do? What the whole world suggested they do? What their own government required them to do?’ It would be very hard to cut off all Italian banks from the US banking system, because they did business with Iran and in 2016 in a manner required by and encouraged by our president,” the California Democrat said.
The president attempted to persuade Democrats who are uneasy about the deal with Iran on Wednesday, according to New York Rep. Jerry Nadler.
“[His] message was this was important and that if we wanted to avert a nuclear bomb in Iranian hands, we have to vote ‘yes’ on this. There’s no other way. There are no other alternatives that bear close scrutiny. That was [the president’s] message,” Nadler told reporters, noting that his own constituents in downtown Manhattan are split on the issue.
Similar to Sherman, Nadler is undecided and told reporters he still has questions. Democrats appear to be waiting on New York Sen. Chuck Schumer to decide where he stands on the Iran deal, as some think others will follow his lead.
“This is not a treaty. It’s not a legislative executive agreement. It is the lowest form of temporary accommodation between a group of national leaders. Under the Vienna convention on treaties this is as low as you can go. As far as being binding it is not binding at all on anybody,” Sherman argued. “But what we have to do is prevent confusion in America and around the world. If it’s not a treaty, not second to a treaty and not third to a treaty — if it’s the lowest level, but the image of it looks like a ratified treaty, then politically it is and legally it isn’t.”
He added, “And so I’ve been in this long enough to know that the picture is more important than the statutory language. And if the picture published in papers around the world is, ‘President Obama’s Iran Deal Wins Huge Victory In Congress’ and I’m trying to convince Italians and I’m trying to convince Americans that America is well within its rights to demand a renegotiation next decade, I’m up against that picture.”