Enough Republicans oppose the Law of the Sea Treaty backed by the Obama administration to prevent the measure from winning ratification in the U.S. Senate this year, according to Senator Jim DeMint.
Four additional senators now say they oppose the treaty, bringing the number of opponents to 34, the level needed to defeat it if it were brought to a vote. DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, said today in a blog post. The added opponents are Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Rob Portman of Ohio and Johnny Isakson of Georgia. A treaty requires the support of 67 of the 100 senators.
“With 34 senators against the misguided treaty, LOST will not be ratified by the Senate this year,” DeMint wrote.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and leading advocate for the treaty, isn’t giving up, said his spokeswoman, Jodi Seth. He’ll proceed with plans to seek approval after the November elections, in a “lame duck” session of Congress, she said.
“It’s not news to anyone that right now we’re in the middle of a white-hot political campaign season where ideology is running in overdrive,” Seth said in an e-mail. “That’s why Senator Kerry made it clear there wouldn’t be a vote before the election and until everyone’s had the chance to evaluate the treaty on the facts and the merits.”
The Obama administration says ratifying the 30-year-old treaty is key to exerting U.S. influence in the Asia-Pacific region, a focus of the revamped global strategy the Pentagon presented in January. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey all appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in May urging ratification.
Some Republicans, including former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, say a system of royalties outlined in the treaty would force rich countries to give to poorer ones. DeMint also calls the accord a method of forcing a “backdoor Kyoto protocol” that would lead the U.S. to adopt cap-and-trade restrictions on carbon emissions that Congress hasn’t approved.
Companies involved in international trade, including Lockheed Martin Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc., are seeking approval of the treaty. They say it would help resolve disputes over matters such as tapping rare-earth minerals that aid in making high-technology products and in deploying undersea communications cable.