(Informed Consent) -- Forty seven GOP senators sent a letter to Iran on Monday warning that country that any agreement only signed off on by President Obama might not last longer than his last day in office. This intervention of the senate in a foreign policy matter is not, as some observers are saying, “unprecedented.” Congress refused to ratify the treaty presented to it By Woodrow Wilson in 1919, that involved joining the League of Nations (the predecessor of the United Nations). In the late 19th century, Arthur Schleslinger, Jr. pointed out in a Foreign Affairs article in 1972, the Senate for twenty years declined to ratify any treaty at all, and contemporary observers became convinced that it would never do so so again.
Of course, there is a difference between refusing to sign off on a president’s treaty and inserting the legislature into the negotiation directly, while it is going on.
President Obama objected, saying, “I think it’s somewhat ironic to see some members of Congress wanting to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran. It’s an unusual coalition . . .”
Advertisement - story continues below