Earlier this week, State Dept. Coordinator for Iraq David Satterfield refused to say whether it was “a constitutional requirement” for the administration to “consult with Congress” on a long-term agreement with Iraq.
This morning on Fox News, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino echoed Satterfield, saying that “we don’t know” whether Congress has any constitutional role in authorizing such treaties:
The negotiations on it have just started. In fact, there was a hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday. And members will be fully briefed. We don’t know if this is going to result in something that Congress will need to approve or not. But they are going to be fully consulted all along the way.
But the administration does know it will bypass Congress. In a follow-up letter to Satterfield’s testimony obtained by ThinkProgress, Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Bergner said the President does have “constitutional authority” to “continue combat operations” in Iraq without Congress’s authorization.
[T]he U.S. military has the authority to conduct operations in Iraq beyond the end of the year under the laws passed by Congress and the President’s authority as Commander in Chief under the Constitution.
“I don’t think anybody argues today that Saddam Hussein is a threat,” said Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) in response. “Is it the government of Iraq that’s a threat?”
In defending the executive agreement, Perino cited “the long-term relationship we have with countries Japan and Germany and South Korea.” Indeed, these “strategic framework agreements” were approved by Congress first, as Oona Hathway of Yale Law School noted.