Josh Earnest is attempting to provide the regime with a face-saving explanation as to why Hussein Obama decided to allow the Iran Sanctions Extension Act to become law without his signature. The bill had only one provision, extending life of The Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 until Dec. 31, 2026, an additional ten years. It passed nearly unanimously, by votes of 419-1 in the House and 99-0 in the Senate.
Although Congress actually recessed for the year last Friday, it remains in “pro forma” session — a kind of skeleton session in which Congress remains open for business, as a means of blocking pocket vetoes and recess appointments. The ten days for action on this bill expired on Wednesday, so it became law without Obama’s signature.
The bill was intended to provide a future president the authority to “snap-back” Iran sanctions if they violate the deal, something they’ve already done with their ballistic missile program. Speaker of the House Ryan said it would give President Trump “the opportunity to evaluate our policy towards Iran independent of additional interference from the outgoing administration.”
The White House argued that Mr. Trump already has that authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and that while unnecessary, the new law was ultimately harmless. Earnest chose to include some warnings of the consequences of imposing the sanctions once again on the terrorist nation. He adopted an obviously combative tone in his remarks.
Earnest said, “The bill doesn’t meet the standards of something that we would veto. But it’s also not something that the administration believes is necessary. So the ‘president’ made a decision to allow that bill to become law without his signature.”
Earnest adds, “But I will say that this decision to allow this bill to become law without the ‘president’s’ signature, is also part of a message that we’re sending to Congress. And it’s simply this, If Congress does blow up the deal that prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, they’re going to have to deal with the consequences, and the consequences are grave.”
He said, “Just to be crystal clear about this, the Iran Sanctions Act is consistent with our commitments under the international agreement and the ‘president’ did not veto this bill because it does not undermine the deal. But there’s been plenty of rhetoric and plenty of legislative work done on legislation that would blow up the deal. And this is a message that if the United States Congress blows up the deal that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, they will have to deal with the grave consequences that ensue.
The margin by which the bill passed indicates not many share the professed certainty of Mr. Earnest that the bill prevents Iran from going nuclear, but merely benefactors of an enriching eight year pause. It’s also obvious that the regime was looking at a guaranteed overwhelming veto override if he chose to veto the legislation. The decision is not about sending a message to anyone, it’s about not looking any worse than he already does as Obama heads for the exit.
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