On his Senate website though, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Sunday became the highest-profile Democrat to endorse the deal and added that he would attempt to sway other members of his party.
Regardless of Mr. Reid’s vote, clear bipartisan majorities in the House andSenate are lining up against the deal. Even so, Mr. Obama has broad executive authority to ease many sanctions on Iran by himself, analysts say.
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“He’s got enormous power to basically circumvent Congress,” said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a critic of the agreement. “He always had in mind a plan that would not require congressional approval. It couldn’t be stopped, the way the administration has structured this.”
Acting on his own, Mr. Obama can delist Iranian banks, commercial entities and individuals targeted for sanctions. He can order the Treasury Department to give out licenses allowing financial and commercial transactions with Iranian businesses.
The president also could provide sanctions relief for Iranian oil exports by treating legislation passed by Congress in 2012 as unconstitutional.
Section 1245 of the National Defense Authorization Act required the president to freeze assets of Iranian banks, including the Central Bank of Iran, and aimed to reduce Iranian oil revenue by imposing sanctions on foreign banks that carry out “significant financial transactions” with the central bank.
But Mr. Obama issued a “signing statement” on Section 1245 when he approved the overall legislation, stating that he could treat that section as nonbinding because it “would interfere with my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations.”
“He would challenge Republicans to fight him in the courts,” Mr. Dubowitzsaid. “He would essentially just circumvent that statutory designation and provide significant sanctions relief.”