President Barack Obama will sign bipartisan compromise legislation on Iran if it emerges as formulated in a key committee, according to a White House spokesman.
The credit for this -- if it does happen -- will go to our own Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee worked with Democratic Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland on the legislation that The New York Times has reported will have "overwhelming support."
While President Obama is not "particularly thrilled" with the bill, said White House spokesman Josh Earnest, he finds the new proposal put together by Corker and Cardin one that takes into account the concerns the president raised recently about the original version.
"What we have made clear to Democrats and Republicans in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is that the president would be willing to sign the proposed compromise that is working its way through the committee today," Earnest told The New York Times on Tuesday.
The president had said he was open to finding a way for Congress to "express itself" as long as it did not block his ability to carry out the framework of an agreement that at best stops Iran from building a nuclear weapon and at worst slows the process. Doing nothing would ensure that Iran does build a nuclear weapon unless we go to war with them first.
What's more, the framework of the Iran nuclear agreement is not a treaty which would require congressional input. It is a sole executive agreement -- and one that other nations have signed on to as well. And while not perfect, it is far, far better than no deal or a congressionally scuttled deal. But congressional input -- if it is supportive -- strengthens our hand in the final negotiations. If Congress plays partisan politics and somehow kills the pact, every American will be threatened. War is costly -- both in money and human lives.
So Sen. Corker deserves our nod and respect. He has said he models himself after the late Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr., who was the Senate majority leader and known by many as the "Great Conciliator" for his gracious but tenacious negotiating ability. Over the past week, he has had his work cut out for him. He told the Times Free Press last week that 144 amendments were filed in just one day on his bill that would require the president send any agreement with Iran to Congress for its front-end approval to lift sanctions against Iran -- sanctions that the Senate had previously OK'd.
Perhaps Tennessee now has another statesman who can rise above the fray. Time will tell if he can continue to herd the cat pack we call Congress.
Hat's off to you, sir.