As minority pushes for filibuster of Iran deal vote, congressional voice on agreement threatened

 

There has been continued talk of a possible Democratic filibuster of the vote on the Iran deal as the congressional recess comes to an end. A filibuster would go against the spirit of the Corkin-Cardin bill, formally known as the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which passed the Senate 98-1 in May and called for a congressional review of the Iran deal. Several senators, including Democrats, gave statements expressing the importance of the bill. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), upon its passage, stated, “On such a serious national security matter that must halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Congress has a responsibility to fulfill its oversight obligations, to dispense with political divisions and to unite around a common purpose.” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) was quoted as saying, “It’s important that the president be able to fully exercise his Article II powers but just as important for Congress to exercise its Article I powers.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued a press release stating, “This bill gives Congress an appropriate and important role in reviewing and scrutinizing any final diplomatic agreement.”

Richard A. Arenberg, who worked for three Democratic Congressmen for a period of over three decades and has written a book defending the use of the filibuster, criticized the threat of a filibuster in this particular instance, writing in The Hill on Tuesday: “I am struck by the irony of the president hanging his hat on a Senate filibuster.  Earlier this year President Obama argued that the use of the filibuster in the Senate ‘almost ensures greater gridlock and less clarity in terms of the positions of the parties…There’s nothing in the Constitution that requires it.’” On Sunday, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told the Associated Press, “All but one senator voted in favor of having the right to vote on the final deal, so then to turn right around and filibuster it to me is very inconsistent and I think would be confusing to the people they represent.”

 

Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, announced that his country’s government is designing a 15-year plan to bolster its nuclear capabilities. Speaking at the Fordow nuclear site, Salehi said, “A 15-year-long plan is being compiled and the plan will be reviewed every 5 years.” Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated, “Our nuclear program has been recognized in Resolution 2231 and world powers are eager to cooperate with us in this regard.”

The nuclear deal with Iran envisions “promoting and facilitating the development of normal economic and trade contacts and cooperation with Iran,” according to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses the accord. The agreement itself goes even further and specifies the international community’s obligations to cooperate with Iran in developing its nuclear program. This includes the provision of “training and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to protect against, and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage, as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems” (emphasis added). This language prompted Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to ask Secretary of State John Kerry in July, “If Israel conducts an air strike against a physical facility, does this deal…require us to help Iran ‘protect and respond’ to that threat?...If Israel conducts a cyber attack on the Iranian nuclear program, are we obligated to help them defend themselves against the Israeli cyber attack?”

 

Jerusalem archaeologists have announced an intriguing find of a pyramid-shaped staircase constructed of large ashlar stones that could have been used as a soapbox or monumental platform during the Second Temple period. This structure was found at the side of a 2,000-year-old Second Temple stepped street, which carried pilgrims on their way from the Shiloah (Siloam) Pool to the Temple. “The structure exposed is unique. To date such a structure has yet to be found along the stepped street in the numerous excavations that have taken place in Jerusalem and to the best of our knowledge outside of it. For this reason, its exact use remains enigmatic,” archaeologists Nahshon Szanton and Dr. Joe Uziel, who direct the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a statement. “The structure is built along the street in a place that is clearly visible from afar by passers-by making their way to the Temple. We believe the structure was a kind of monumental podium that attracted the public’s attention when walking on the city’s main street. It would be very interesting to know what was said there 2,000 years ago. Were messages announced here on behalf of the government? Perhaps news or gossip, or admonitions and street preaching – unfortunately we do not know.” (via Israel21c)

 


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