In the American political system, the Executive branch negotiates treaties such as the Iran nuclear deal, however the outcome must be ratified by the Senate before it becomes binding in law. All parties know this.
Therefore, it is advised that real time communications be engaged between American negotiators and Senate foreign relations leadership such that there be no missteps on something as serious as nuclear limits on Iran that prevent war.
“In the US, the treaty power is a coordinated effort between the Executive branch and the Senate. The President may form and negotiate, but the treaty must be advised and consented to by a two-thirds vote in the Senate. Only after the Senate approves the treaty can the President ratify it. Once a treaty is ratified, it becomes binding on all the states under the Supremacy Clause. While theUnited States House of Representatives does not vote on it at all, the requirement for Senate advice and consent to ratification makes it considerably more difficult in the US than in other democratic republics to rally enough political support for international treaties. Also, if implementation of the treaty requires the expenditure of funds, the House of Representatives may be able to block, or at least impede, such implementation by refusing to vote for the appropriation of the necessary funds.
In the US, the President usually submits a treaty to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) along with an accompanying resolution of ratification or accession. If the treaty and resolution receive favorable committee consideration (a committee vote in favor of ratification or accession) the treaty is then forwarded to the floor of the full U.S. Senate for such a vote. The treaty or legislation does not apply until it has been ratified.”
The threat from the Senate not to accept terms that are determined to be too low or dangerous can actually be a healthy part of negotiations. In the instance of Iran, they know that the Senate is likely to be far more conservative than President Obama. They must yield to the fact that Obama must “sell” the negotiated product to the Congress. If he can’t sell it, the U.S. would have to ask for an extension on negotiations.
At stake for Iran is continued sanctions. At risk for the U.S. and allies is that Iran will continue to develop nuclear weapons without restraint to the point of warranting military action.
“GOP poised to dash Obama’s Iran hopes
By Kristina Wong – 11/16/14 06:00 AM EST
Republicans are flexing their muscles and threatening to block President Obama from cutting a nuclear deal with Iran on his own terms.
International negotiators have until Nov. 24 under an interim agreement to reach a deal with Tehran that would curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, or seek another extension of talks.
While the GOP won’t take control of the Senate until Jan.3, they are quickly making it clear they are serious about closely vetting any agreement. As the deadline approaches, Republicans fear the administration is too eager to reach a deal and could concede too much in talks.
A GOP Congress could doom what the president hopes will be a legacy foreign policy achievement.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) took to the Senate floor on Thursday to ask for unanimous consent to schedule a vote on a bill that would give Congress final approval over any deal, or else reinstate tough sanctions on Iran.
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.) quickly rejected the request, arguing that scheduling a vote on the deal would be “premature at this point.” He said it would “send a fairly chilling message” that U.S. officials at the table with Iran did not have full authority to negotiate an agreement.
But when Republicans take control of the Senate, they could move to pass that bill, or push legislation from Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) which would reinstate sanctions if Iran violates any deal.