Obama is trying get around the Senate to enact a U.N. climate deal

There’s no ambiguity about the process by which the United States can enter into a treaty. The Constitution, in Article II, Section 2, states that a president “shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.”

The ratification process is a very specific limitation on presidential power, one that provides a legislative check on the executive branch. But President Barack Obama can’t be bothered by the constitutional process. The New York Times reports that, in his latest move to get around Congress, President Obama’s State Department is negotiating a climate deal at the United Nations to update a 1992 treaty with new emission reduction targets (emphasis added):

Lawmakers in both parties on Capitol Hill say there is no chance that the currently gridlocked Senate will ratify a climate change treaty in the near future, especially in a political environment where many Republican lawmakers remain skeptical of the established science of human-caused global warming.
American negotiators are instead homing in on a hybrid agreement — a proposal to blend legally binding conditions from an existing 1992 treaty with new voluntary pledges. The mix would create a deal that would update the treaty, and thus, negotiators say, not require a new vote of ratification.

Senators announce opposition to Obama-backed U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) faces a nearly impossible road to ratification after half of the United States Senate reiterated their opposition to the measure in a letter to President Barack Obama.

The letter, which was spearheaded by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and signed by 50 senators, meticulously explained the reasons for opposition, including the lack of consensus at the U.N. and weak recognition of the lawful use of firearms.

“[T]he treaty was adopted by a procedure which violates a red line laid down by your own administration. In October 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the U.S. supported the negotiation of the treaty only by ‘the rule of consensus decision-making,’” noted the senators in the letter to President Obama.

“But in April 2013, after the treaty failed to achieve consensus, it was adopted by majority vote in the U.N. General Assembly,” the senators wrote. “We fear that this reversal has done grave damage to the diplomatic credibility of the United States.”

President Obama supports the treaty, which was signed last month by Secretary of State John Kerry. Many Second Amendment supporters believe that the treaty will serve as a backdoor for gun control regulations, including gun registration, as a provision of the measure requires countries to track gun ownership of small arms to the “end user.”

The senators noted that the treaty’s lack recognition of lawful ownership and tracking requirements played a factor in their opposition.

Kerry will sign U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

Despite bipartisan opposition in the United States Senate, Secretary of State John Kerry has signed the United Nations’ controversial Arms Trade Treaty, which gun rights supporters fear is a backdoor way to advance strict gun control measures:

Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday signed a controversial U.N. treaty on arms regulation, riling U.S. lawmakers who vow the Senate will not ratify the agreement.

As he signed the document, Kerry called the treaty a “significant step” in addressing illegal gun sales, while claiming it would also protect gun rights.

“This is about keeping weapons out of the hands of terrorists and rogue actors. This is about reducing the risk of international transfers of conventional arms that will be used to carry out the world’s worst crimes. This is about keeping Americans safe and keeping America strong,” he said. “This treaty will not diminish anyone’s freedom. In fact, the treaty recognizes the freedom of both individuals and states to obtain, possess, and use arms for legitimate purposes.”

Many gun rights supporters believe that the treaty will serve as a backdoor for more strenuous gun control measures than what is currently being pushed by the White House. In particular, there is a requirement for countries to track gun ownership of small arms to the “end user” (gun registration).

UN Approves Obama-backed Arms Trade Treaty

United Nations

The United Nations has approved the controversial Arms Treaty Treaty (ATT), which is expected to lead to a standoff between Second Amendment supporters in the Senate and the White House:

The United Nations’ overwhelming approval Tuesday of an arms trade treaty opposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) sets up a showdown between President Obama and the powerful gun lobby’s friends on Capitol Hill.

President Obama is expected to sign the treaty within the next few months after the United States joined 153 other countries in supporting the treaty.

The Senate, however, has vowed to block ratification, which requires a two-thirds majority and is needed for the treaty to be legally binding on the U.S.

Many gun rights supporters believe that the treaty will serve as a backdoor for more strenuous gun control measures than what is currently being pushed by the White House. In particular, there is a requirement for countries to track gun ownership of small arms to the “end user” (gun registration).

ICYMI: Senate Takes Stand Against U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

United Nations

While the vote may only be symbolic, it’s still important. In case you missed it in my brief rundown of amendments to the budget, it’s worth mentioning once more.

Early Saturday morning, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) presented an amendment to the budget that would prevent the United States from entering into the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, which opponents say could put Second Amendment rights at risk:

In the pre-dawn hours Saturday, the Senate approved a measure “to uphold Second Amendment rights and prevent the United States from entering into the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.”

By a vote of 53-46, the Senate passed the amendment to the budget bill sponsored by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.).
“We’re negotiating a treaty that cedes our authority to have trade agreements with our allies in terms of trading arms,” Inhofe before the vote on his amendment. “This is probably the last time this year that you’ll be able to vote for your Second Amendment rights.”

According to a story in The Hill, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) proposed his own amendment “that clarified that under current U.S. law, treaties don’t trump the Constitution and that the United States should not agree to any arms treaty that violates the Second Amendment rights.” Leahy’s amendment also passed.

START ratification not happening in 2010

Ratification of the START treaty, which will require the United States and Russia to reduce the number of nuclear weapons, may not happen this year:

Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), the third-ranking GOP member of the Senate, said that it would take longer than the end of the year to get together the 67 votes necessary to ratify the nuclear arms treaty President Barack Obama signed last week with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

“No, not this year. That’s my view,” Alexander said during an appearance on Fox News when asked if the Senate would ratify the treaty this year.

“We have a lot of questions,” he said. “We need to get the right answers and then it might get 67 votes.”
Alexander’s admonition on a timeline appears to be more than partisan bluster, too. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) has suggested the votes aren’t there to ratify the treaty for now, and that assurances to modify the U.S. nuclear stockpile may be needed to win Senate support.

The top GOP senator said that a busy calendar in the Senate, including a Supreme Court nomination, combined with colleagues’ many questions would likely push things until next year.

“There are a lot of questions we need to ask. It took 431 days to ratify the treaty in 1991,” he said. “It’ll probably take about the same amount of time to do this one.”

The retirement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens killed any chance of the treaty being ratified this year, as noted in the article. This doesn’t help President Barack Obama and Democrats, who are desperately seeking something besides the unpopular health care bill to run on in November.

Obama sure of START ratification

As Doug noted yesterday, President Barack Obama signed the START treaty with Russia yesterday. Obama is confident that the treaty, which calls for joint reduction in nuclear arms, will be ratified by the Senate:

Following signing a new treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to cut nuclear stockpiles in both countries, Obama said he was confident that both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate would act to ratify the agreement.

The president said he had already begun reaching out to the chairmen of key Senate committees with jurisdiction over the treaty, which picks up where the most recently lapsed START treaty ended.

The Senate requires a two-thirds vote in order to ratify a treaty, a 67-vote threshold meaning that at least eight Republican senators would have to sign onto the agreement, assuming all 59 Senate Democrats will support it.

Republicans have kept their powder dry on the agreement so far, though they criticized the president’s revised nuclear posture when it was unveiled earlier this week.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) says the Senate will take up the treaty next month.

Assuming they lose none of their own, Democrats need eight Republicans to vote with them to clear the treaty. I don’t think that’s likely, though there are a GOP Senators that will probably back it. Talk radio is already taking aim at the treaty and with the mid-terms coming up, I don’t see Republicans wanting to give Obama a foreign policy victory.

USA, Russia Sign Nuclear Arms Reduction Treaty

President Obama and Russian President Medvedev took major steps today to further reduce nuclear arsenals that once terrified the world:

PRAGUE — President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a sweeping new arms reduction pact Thursday that pledges to reduce the stockpile of deployed, strategic nuclear weapons in both countries and commits the old Cold War adversaries to new procedures to verify which weapons each country possesses.

Obama arrived in this historic city Thursday morning to formalize a step toward the vision he laid out here a year ago — of a world without nuclear weapons.

The leaders met privately for about an hour before signing the pact in a ceremony hosted by the Czechs and full of symbolism. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was among the many dignitaries looking on as Obama and Medvedev began signing, at one point exchanging amused glances as if to say, “This isn’t so hard.”

“Together, we have stopped the drift, and proven the benefits of cooperation,” Obama said in remarks a short time later. “… This day demonstrates the determination of the United States and Russia — the two nations that hold over 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons — to pursue responsible global leadership.”

No doubt many on the right will criticize Obama for this, but the truth of the matter is that this is exactly in line with what Ronald Reagan hoped would happen:

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