Thursday, July 30, 2015

Concerns About Negotiating with Our Enemies

We live in an era when our enemies are often difficult to identify and track, but some nations and their leaders have made well-known their desire to defeat America. Despite the growing global dangers to our country, President Obama has chosen to negotiate with nations which have openly threatened America and our allies. Not only has he met them at the negotiating table, but he has also given in to a disturbingly large number of their demands. Adding to the concern about these deals is the way President Obama has pursued them by bypassing Congress.

Details are trickling down about the nuclear agreement with Iran. In this deal, long-held sanctions against Iran would be lifted, allowing global financial resources to flow into a country still included on our list of state sponsors of terrorism. Unfortunately, the agreement appears to contain few mechanisms to ensure Iran holds up its end of the bargain.

Though the full agreement has not yet been made available to Congress, I am deeply concerned by reports of concessions we are giving to Iran such as lifting arms and missile embargoes and not securing the release of the Americans imprisoned there. Under the terms of the deal, Iran can keep International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors out of suspected nuclear sites for at least three weeks after the request is made. Ambassador Susan Rice and Secretary John Kerry have also now acknowledged a side deal between Iran and IAEA, but the details are unknown.

These negotiations with Iran bear many similarities to the deal recently struck by the Obama administration with Cuba. This week, the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Embassy in Havana formally reopened after President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro came to an agreement in December to resume diplomatic relations. President Obama called it a "historic step forward," but getting to this point required the U.S. to give much more than we received in the deal.

Castro has made it clear he does not intend to change any of his country's oppressive socialist policies. There are no indications Cuba's rampant human rights abuses will subside or even lessen. Cuba maintains its close connections to countries such as Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela, and continues to harbor terrorists and fugitives. Meanwhile, President Obama has removed Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Even these concessions by the U.S. are not enough for Castro. At the reopening ceremony for the Cuban Embassy in Washington, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez not only advocated for an end to the embargo but also called for the U.S. to compensate Cuba for the embargo's effects and to dismantle our naval base at Guantanamo.

With both Iran and Cuba, President Obama adds to his lengthy track record of ignoring Congress and taking unilateral executive action to pursue his agenda. He moved forward with reopening embassies and normalizing relations with Cuba without engaging Congress in these decisions. On Iran, the Obama administration took the deal to the United Nations before Congress even had a chance to review it. These actions are disturbing and show a continued disregard for the American people and their elected representatives.

Despite President Obama's determination to expand his executive authority, the Constitution mandates a crucial oversight role for Congress in these types of agreements with foreign nations. Congress has 60 days to disapprove the Iran deal, and only Congress can lift the Cuba embargo. My top priority remains ensuring any deal is in the best interest of the U.S. and our allies, as well as giving Nebraskans a voice in these decisions which will greatly impact our country's future.

About the Author:

Congressman Adrian Smith from Nebraska serves on the Committee on Ways and Means. Congressional Rural Caucus (Chair), Congressional Rural Veterans Caucus (Chair), Modern Agriculture Caucus (Chair), Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, Congressional Western Caucus and Congressional General Aviation Caucus. Smith has been noted for his consistent voting against tax increases, massive government bailouts, and in his opposition of the affordable healthcare act (aka ObamaCare) which is creating massive uncertainty for our nation's job creators.

Smith, a co-sponsor of the Balanced Budget Amendment and a supporter of a Congressional earmark moratorium, has earned a reputation as a solid conservative through his votes to protect the rights of gun owners, efforts to limit the scope of government, and his strong pro-life voting record.