TWO-TERM U.S. SENATOR KNOWN FOR “DEALS,” “COMPROMISE“
by Sharon Rondeau
(May 21, 2016) — A number of Saturday media reports state that Sen. Bob Corker, who played a large role in negotiating the passage of legislation last May ensuring that Congress would retain the ability to tighten economic sanctions against Iran in the wake of Obama’s nuclear “deal” with that nation, plans to meet with Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump in New York City on Monday.
The bill Corker advocated, S. 615, is titled the “Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.”
Corker, a Tennessee Republican, is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and earlier this month indicated that he would offer advice to Trump as he emerged as the Republican presidential frontrunner.
Trump’s considerable, worldwide real estate business prompted him to write his bestselling book, “The Art of the Deal” published in December 2004 with co-author Tony Schwartz. In addition, Trump has authored several other books about successful entrepreneurship and his thoughts on “How to Make America Great Again.”
Corker, too, has been involved in real estate in his home state of Tennessee, where he served as mayor of Chattanooga from 2001 to 2005 on a platform of economic growth.
Elected to the Senate in 2006, Corker was re-elected in 2012 after having being identified by some as the chamber’s “deal maker.”
In 1979, diplomatic relations with Iran were severed following the hostage-taking of 52 Americans, who were held in-country for 444 days, released just after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the 40th U.S. president.
Iran has been judged financially culpable in the deaths of “more than 1,000 victims and their surviving family members” resulting from the bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon on October 23, 1983.
Obama considered the eventual consensus reached by the ‘P+5″ nations and Iran on its nuclear program after many months of negotiations “an executive agreement” and not a treaty.
Last year, Corker worked with Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Ben Cardin to convince their fellow U.S. Senators to support a bill which allowed Congress a vote on whether or not to lift longstanding sanctions against Iran but not on the impending larger agreement, which Obama maintained was his purview.
Prior to that proposed legislation, Corker and Sen. Robert Menendez, then the ranking member of the committee, had discussed a bill which would “toughen sanctions against Iran” and require Obama’s certification that Iran was no longer sponsoring “terrorism against Americans.” In March 2015, Corker said that “Legislation requiring congressional review of any Iran nuclear deal will get the 67 Senate votes needed to overcome a presidential veto.”
On April 14, 2015, Politico reported that both Cardin and Corker played major roles in passage of an altered bill mandating that two-thirds of the Senate must disapprove of the “deal” Obama advocated in order to stop its implementation. “Corker changed the structure of the bill from allowing Congress to reject a deal with Iran to allowing lawmakers to reject the lifting of legislative sanctions,…” Politico wrote. “That change brought aboard a number of Democrats like Tim Kaine of Virginia, who were persuaded by Corker’s constitutional argument, and in February they introduced a newly revised bipartisan version.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) was the one “nay” vote in the Senate on the grounds that the “accord” should have been considered a treaty. In that case, the Senate’s “advice and consent” by a two-thirds majority would have been required by Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.
Prior to the vote, Cotton had composed a letter which was sent directly to Iranian leaders which 47 Republican senators signed, Corker not having been among them, expressing that Congress must approve any “nuclear deal” to ensure its longevity.
The Corker-Cardin bill, considered a “compromise” by the White House, effectively cleared the way for Obama to negotiate with Iran ” in a way that would be extremely difficult for Mr. Obama to lose” by including a provision stipulating that rather than a two-thirds majority required to approve the Iran agreement, only one-third would be required.
The House of Representatives approved its own version of the legislation shortly thereafter with the encouragement of then-Speaker John Boehner; the Senate and House versions were then reconciled and became law on May 22, 2015.
Corker announced the bill’s passage on his website that day, offering a summary with his own introductory note, which reads, “Without this bill, there is nothing stopping the president from bypassing the American people, immediately waiving sanctions imposed by Congress and unilaterally implementing an agreement with Iran. This legislation ensures the president will submit an agreement to Congress for review and a vote.”
Some saw Corker’s actions as “capitulating” and “unconstitutional.” In an editorial dated September 3, 2015, John Hayward of Breitbart excoriated Corker for having been “the key figure in turning Congressional rules upside-down and rendering the majority powerless.”
Following the passage of the legislation, The American Spectator wrote. “…negotiating a deal, nuclear or otherwise, with the Iranian regime in its present form, is a fool’s errand. The foolishness begins and ends with President Obama. Unfortunately, he was aided and abetted by Bob Corker.”
On August 26, writing for Commentary Magazine, Jonathan Tobin wrote of the Iran “deal:”
Without Corker’s foolish belief in working with the White House and pusillanimous unwillingness to push for an approval process in line with the Constitution’s provisions about foreign treaties, the administration might never have been able to get away with sneaking through the most important foreign policy decision in a generation.
In 2013, Corker and another senator introduced the “Border Amendment” as a “compromise” to S. 744, which attempted to initiate “immigration reform,” legislation Obama strongly wished to see enacted during the remainder of his time in the White House.
As a result of the measure’s failure to pass the House, Obama declared through “executive actions” in November 2014 that millions of illegal aliens would not face deportation and would be given work permits if they met certain conditions, one of which was having a child enrolled in his “executive-action” DACA program announced in June 2012, also without an act of Congress.
At a 2010 town hall meeting, Corker received a firsthand account from LCDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.) of systemic public corruption in Monroe County. His office subsequently indicated to another constituent that it can take no action on Tennessee’s corrupt grand juries and judicial system.
Corker is a friend of Jimmy Haslam, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s brother, whose company was raided by the FBI in 2013. Jimmy Haslam owns the Cleveland Browns football team. In July 2014, Jimmy Haslam agreed to pay a $92 million penalty to avoid Justice Department prosecution for “withholding diesel fuel price discounts from hundreds of its customers.”
The case was prosecuted by U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, William C. Killian, who told Fitzpatrick in a lengthy letter in 2014 that he would not read any future entreaties from Fitzpatrick asking to testify to a federal grand jury about public corruption.
On May 12, Corker led a discussion within the Foreign Relations Committee focused on “America’s Role in the World.”
In regard to who he might select as his running mate, Trump has said, “I want to have somebody that can deal with Congress, that gets along with Congress, that’s a Washington person,” adding, “You don’t need two like me.”
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.