In a maneuver that seems to be the first of kind, 47 republican senators attempted to undermine a nuclear deal behind the President’s back.
Senators sent a letter to Iranian officials in early March indicating that any agreements made by President Obama could be revoked “with the stroke of a pen” by any future president, and that Congress cound adjust the nuclear agreement’s terms.
At the time, the U.S. and Iranian governments were negotiating Iran’s long-standing nuclear limits. The letter was revealed after the Iranian government asked for an explanation of the letter.
Sen. Cotton (R), the youngest senator in office, is the author of the letter. In his USA Today op ed, he summed up the reasons why he and 46 other senators had sent that letter. “Our goal is simple: to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” he wrote.
Cotton believed that the current negotiations would allow Iran to improve its nuclear programs to the point of them being able to manufacture nuclear weapons. He claims that the Obama administration has “completely bypassed Congress in its negotiations with Iran.”
“Our constituents elected us to the Senate, in part, to protect them from bad agreements like this and to help ensure their safety and security. And that is what we intend to do,” Cotton wrote.
Sen. Cotton’s opinion seems to not be part of the majority. A petition to impeach the senators for treason amassed more than 100,000+ signatures on Whitehouse.gov within days of the story going out.
Although this instance has been seen by many as a unique occurrence, the Logan Act of 1799 (amended 1994), written in response to a similar issue, states the following:
“Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”
The Logan Act was written in response to Dr. George Logan’s negotiations with France during a small sea war. Those negotiations, which ultimately improved France and America’s relations, were not at all known by the government at the time, which could have brought serious consequences for both countries had the diplomacy not been so successful.
Such a story has been noticed by the Malvern community. Mrs. Harriet Lappas, Government Teacher, believes that “they [the senators] were trying to undermine the president.” When asked about the intentions of the senators to send such a letter, she said “I think that they were just trying to make a point. I don’t agree with what they did”.
Mrs. Lappas does not think that Cotton executed the letter on his own. “This was a GOP thing. I’m sure Congressman Boehner knew about it,” said Lappas.
“He [Sen. Cotton] was young, he was trying to make a name for himself… I think that they [the senators] may have come to him and said ‘would you take a hit for the team and do this for us?” said Lappas.
Mr. Colameco, AP US History teacher, also thought that the Senators were trying to humiliate the president. “It’s become obvious, for a number of years now, that their primary tactic is just embarrass him every chance they get,” said Colameco. “I think they perceive the President as vulnerable… they really want to take the White House in 2016, and so anything they can do to embarrass him or make him look weak, they’re going to do”.
Mr. Colameco is primarily upset with viciousness of congressmen in writing this letter, wishing that they would try to cooperate instead of compete. “What I expect my congressman to do when he goes to Congress is work for the good of the country,” said Colameco. “You don’t have to agree with [the President] but you do have to work cooperatively [with him]… and that’s not what they’re doing here.”
“The problem of course is that we might be setting some precedents for the future,” suggests Colameco. “What happens, 20-30 years from now, if we have a republican president and a democratic congress? Are they going to do the same thing? I mean, why not? And that’s in no one’s best interest.”