Whether the issue is immigration or healthcare, Congress and the Obama administration have battled as much in court as they have on the House or Senate floor. Another clash over the balance of powers is looming, this time over which branch of government should have the final say on a possible nuclear agreement with Iran.
The Senate is nearing a veto-proof majority on legislation that would require the administration to submit any final deal with Iran to Congress, which would then have 60 days to review and possibly reject it. The White House opposes the bill, in keeping with its longstanding position that Capitol Hill should more or less butt out of the Iran talks. (Knowing that any deal would never earn support from the 67 senators it takes to ratify a treaty, the administration deliberately structured the Iran accord as an "executive agreement" instead.)
The key difference between the Iran fight and the other skirmishes that the White House has had with Republicans in Congress is that, as Peter Beinart and others have noted, President Obama is missing the support of a surprising number of his traditional Democratic allies. The legislation authored by Senators Bob Corker and the recently-indicted Robert Menendez now has eight Democratic co-sponsors, including the minority-leader-in-waiting, Chuck Schumer. That puts it just a few votes shy of the two-thirds majority it takes to override a veto. A similar dynamic could play out in the House, where Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, will try to limit defections against the president. The administration has succeeding in holding Congress at bay for months, but the Foreign Relations Committee, which Corker leads, is set to consider the proposal next week.