Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said Tuesday that President Donald Trump should bring the potential nuclear deal with North Korea to the Senate in the form of a treaty.
Trump traveled to Singapore for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Tuesday, which led to the pair making a joint statement and to Trump saying a deal will be struck to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. McConnell told reporters in the Capitol that any “significant agreement” should be voted on as a treaty.
“I think there’d be widespread interest in Congress for having an involvement in this,” McConnell said. “If the president can reach a significant agreement with the North Koreans, I hope it takes the form of a treaty.”
According to the U.S. Constitution, the president can ratify treaties with the approval of two-thirds of senators’ approval, and McConnell said he’d prefer that to a lesser executive agreement.
“That’s what the Founders of our country anticipated, and that’s why it’s in the Constitution,” McConnell said. “We obviously have precedent for things less than that, but which route the administration takes will be up to them.”
In a high-profile nuclear deal with Iran, former President Barack Obama did not bring the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to Congress for approval. That left the deal as only an executive agreement, which allowed Trump to pull out of it earlier this year and gave Democrats who support the deal no options to save it.
Republicans were sharply critical of the JCPOA and hailed Trump’s decision to leave it, and McConnell himself had called the deal flawed. He emphasized Tuesday that Trump cannot ignore Congress in ratifying the deal.
“I do think they will need to come to Congress in some form, and we will wait and see what form that takes,” McConnell said.
Trump took on Kim’s testing of ballistic missiles by taking a hard line on any further tests. He warned Kim in a speech at the United Nations last year that the U.S. would “totally destroy” his regime if he did not denuclearize, and he has since joined South Korean President Moon Jae-in to negotiate directly with Kim.