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August 31, 2015

Jim Geraghty: Time to Go Nuclear on Obama's Nuke Deal?

The logic is simple.

Harry Reid did away with filibusters, himself using the "nuclear option" to pass the new rule over the objections of more than a filibuster-level of opponents, for a certain category of vote -- votes with a Constitutional separation-of-powers dimension. Reid claimed the president had the right to get his personnel into the Executive and that the Senate should not stop him via a Senate rule (the filibuster rule); that such votes, affecting, as they do, a coequal branch of government, should be free of the filibuster rule and default to the rule in the constitution -- which is, of course, a simple majority rule.

Okay, makes sense.

But you know what other sorts of votes have a constitutional, separation-of-powers, turf-protecting dimension? Votes on agreements made with foreign regimes-- which the Constitution says are subject, as treaties, to the "advice and consent of the Senate" and a specified two thirds supermajority.

So, the Republicans could follow Reid's lead and pass a resolution declaring that the Iran treaty is in fact a treaty and must be treated as such. When Democrats attempt to filibuster that, they break out the nuclear option Reid did and say that given that this is a matter of separation-of-powers constitutional dimension, they will have the vote on a filibuster-free basis. (The actual process is that the question is submitted to the parliamentarian, who rules the motion to proceed without hte filibuster to be against the rules -- but then you overrule him with a simple majority vote. Which is exactly what Reid did.)

Now you have a majority of senators declaring that this is a treaty and must be treated like a treaty.

Now, Geraghty proposed this last Friday, but then backed off the idea when someone said that a resolution would also be subject to Obama's veto.

For reasons I don't understand -- and I sure wish he'd elaborate -- AllahPundit doesn't seem to think that that is much of an obstacle.

The question is, what do you do once the filibuster’s been nuked? If the GOP decides to pass a resolution declaring the Iran deal a treaty that requires two-thirds of the Senate to approve it, Obama will veto that resolution. That shouldn’t matter-- since when is Article II contingent upon the president’s assent? -- but you're looking at a court battle at least, and the public will be bewildered after weeks of "does Obama have the Senate votes to protect his Iran deal?" headlines suddenly switch to "GOP changes rules on voting to block Iran deal."

Obviously this is all hypothetical, because the Donor Class has forbidden McConnell to spend any political capital on this; the Donor Class demands that all political capital will be spent on things that really matter, like the Export-Import Bank.

Still, in order to have fruitful political discussions, it is necessary that we pretend to be members of a functioning democracy in which voters have some sort of influence on government and popular will is somehow of concern to politicians.

So we'll pretend along, because otherwise, every blog post will be very short: "The Donor Class wins."

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posted by Ace at 02:57 PM

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