Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) urged the Trump administration on Dec. 22 to submit both the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal to the Senate as formal treaties in the hope that a vote would stop them from being restored.
The Trump administration exited both agreements, but former Vice President Joe Biden said that he plans to rejoin them should he become president on Jan. 20.
In a letter to President Donald Trump, Cruz, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made the argument that the two deals should have been submitted as treaties to the Senate by the Obama administration, because Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution “grants the Senate a significant, unique, and indispensable role in developing American foreign policy through treaties.”
Cruz went on to write: “Multiple previous administrations, however, have undermined the Senate’s constitutional role by negotiating significant international agreements, and then refusing to submit them to the Senate for its advice and consent.
“Most recently—and most egregiously—President Obama refused to submit either the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran Deal) or the United Nations Paris Climate Agreement (the Paris Agreement) to the Senate as a treaty.”
The Paris Agreement was adopted by 196 countries in 2015 and entered into force in 2016, with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Trump addressed his disapproval of the methods outlined in the agreement at a 2017 White House press briefing, saying: “Not only does this deal subject our citizens to harsh economic restrictions, it fails to live up to our environmental ideals.
“I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States—which is what it does—the world’s leader in environmental protection, while imposing no meaningful obligations on the world’s leading polluters.
“While the current agreement effectively blocks the development of clean coal in America … China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants. So, we can’t build the plants, but they can, according to this agreement.”
The Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was reached in 2015 between Iran and six countries, including the United States, as well as the European Union. Critics of the deal said it didn’t go far enough to limit Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons.
“It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement,” Trump said in May 2018.
In his letter, Cruz said that close to three dozen senators had urged the Obama administration in 2016 to submit the two agreements to the Senate, but President Barack Obama didn’t comply because he knew the deals wouldn’t be ratified with the required two-thirds vote.
“The only reason the Obama administration refused to submit these agreements to the Senate as treaties were that it knew that the agreements were deeply unpopular and doomed for defeat,” Cruz wrote.
The Texas lawmaker ended his letter by encouraging Trump to restore the Senate’s role in overlooking the two deals by making them into treaties, writing that “only by so doing will the Senate be able to satisfy its constitutional role to provide advice and consent in the event any future administration attempts to revive these dangerous deals.”