Cornyn on Possible Iran Attack and Filibuster

On Sunday, March 18, Sam Husseini spoke with Senatory John Cornyn (R-TX), outside of the studios of ABC News. Cornyn, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee among his other assignments, expressed the opinion that Iran represents “a very real threat” but that he did not anticipate the US to attack Iran unless something “no one of us expects happens.” On whether Bush should seek another authorization of force, Cornyn said “I think that would be the proper order of things.” When later asked about Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons in the region and how that might play into the dynamic that may fuel Iran alleged pursuit of the same, Cornyn refused to acknowledge Israel’s weapons and stated that “no comparison” could be drawn between Israel and Iran in part because Israel is a US ally.

Sam Husseini also inquired about the Republicans threat of a filibuster on legislation regulating the funding of the Iraq war in contrast to the Republicans decrying the possibility of Democrats filibustering Bush administration nominees. The Senator said he saw a difference between filibustering legislation and, as he saw it, unconstitutionally hindering a President’s nominations.

Appended is a transcript of the exchange.


Sam Husseini: Senator, on other issues, does the administration have the authority to attack Iran? And if it does, what will Congress do?

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): Well the administration has made it clear that they are not going to attack Iran unless they — Iran — unless, something happens that no one of us expects to happen. Obviously, when there was a request to use force, the President has come to Congress and sought that authorization and I think that would be the proper order of things. But I think we should be, should recognize that Iran does represent a very real threat to stability in the Middle East. They’re defying the civilized world by seeking a nuclear weapon and the last thing we need is a state-sponsored international terrorism get a nuclear weapon that could be used to kill an awful lot of innocent people. So I think the matter is very serious.

SH: On the filibusters, there seems to be a discrepancy as to when the filibuster is used, its used when — its off the table when Bush wants to get a judicial nominee through but its on the table on other matters. So isn’t there a total double standard as to when the filibuster is used in the Senate?

JC: That’s a great question. And actually, there is a difference between legislation which is totally within the purview and authority of Congress to make rules in establishing how we pass legislation. I think the sixty vote rule is entirely appropriate there. There is a bipartisan support for that sixty vote requirement. Now on nominations, it implicates the power and authority of the separate branch of government, the Executive Branch, and I do think its sets an unconstitutionally high burden to require 60 votes to confirm a President’s nominees. So, I do think there is an important distinction to be made.

SH: Back to Iran, doesn’t Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons destabilize the region, especially since the U.S. government has never acknowledged its existence?

JC: I think there is no comparison between Israel and Iran and those who would draw a comparison ignore the fact that Israel is our ally and one of the most important points of democracy, and one of the most democratic nations in the entire Middle East. Iran is a state-sponsored international terrorism, sponsors Hezbollah and others that kill innocent civilians in pursuit of their agenda. To me, there is no comparison whatsoever.

SH: But, the U.S. government –

JC: I think that rather than allow a filibuster over here, perhaps another question –

SH: [laughs].

Barry Electric was the videographer for this stakeout.

[originally published on Washington Stakeout on March 19, 2007; posted on posthaven Nov. 13, 2015]