Home inFocus Ideas for a New Congress (Winter 2015) A Final Thought … The Case Act

A Final Thought … The Case Act

Jewish Policy Center Winter 2015

A movement is afoot on Capitol Hill to “force” President Obama to submit any agreement between the United States and Iran to lawmakers, even if it isn’t a treaty that requires ratification. The administration, not surprisingly, says there is no reason to do so. It is also not terribly surprising that the president — a half-term Senator — is not conversant with the 1972 Case Act (1 U.S. Code § 112b – United States international agreements; transmission to Congress). It is more surprising that those who disagree with the president in this case don’t appear to have looked it up.

In 1969 and 1970, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee learned that significant covert agreements had been arranged between the U.S. government and South Korea, Laos, Thailand, Ethiopia, Spain, and more. The Democrats at the time controlled both Houses of Congress, but it was Republican Senator Clifford Case (NJ) who authored the legislation that bears his name. The language is simple; the implications vast [emphasis added]:

“(a) The Secretary of State shall transmit to the Congress the text of any international agreement (including the text of any oral international agreement, which agreement shall be reduced to writing), other than a treaty, to which the United States is a party as soon as practicable after such agreement has entered into force with respect to the United States but in no event later than sixty days thereafter. However, any such agreement the immediate public disclosure of which would, in the opinion of the President, be prejudicial to the national security of the United States shall not be so transmitted to the Congress but shall be transmitted to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on International Relations of the House of Representatives under an appropriate injunction of secrecy… Any department or agency of the United States Government which enters into any international agreement on behalf of the United States shall transmit to the Department of State the text of such agreement not later than 20 days after such agreement has been signed.”

For the president and the administration to act lawfully in regard to any forthcoming agreement with Iran, it must be submitted to Congress.