By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 1:44 p.m. today
Tester said in a letter Monday that he opposes the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
A clear majority of senators now oppose the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.
Because two-thirds of senators would be required to consent to ratification, the fate of the treaty was always in doubt. Now its unclear whether the Senate could even proceed to debate the measure.
Theres no way to filibuster a motion to take up a treaty, but a roll call vote may be required to go into executive session to consider it. That would require a simple majority, and it isnt at all clear the treaty which would establish new international standards related to trade in conventional weapons would get over that threshold.
In a Monday letter to President Barack Obama, Democratic Sens. John Tester and Max Baucus of Montana joined Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana in announcing opposition to the treaty that Secretary of State John Kerry signed on to on behalf of the Obama administration last month.
The four Democrats say that including small firearms and ammunition in the terms of the agreement makes the Treaty overly broad.
We take our constitutional obligation as U.S. Senators to provide advice and consent seriously. And although we appreciate the Administrations work to make this Treaty more amenable to the United States interests, we believe it falls short, the senators wrote. Because of unaddressed concerns that this Treatys obligations could undermine our nations sovereignty and the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans, we would oppose the Treaty if it were to come before the U.S. Senate.
The National Rifle Association, which has long opposed the treaty, praised the senators letter.
This letter sends a clear message to President Obama and Secretary Kerry that the Arms Trade Treaty will not receive the 67 votes in the U.S. Senate necessary for ratification, NRA Executive Director Chris W. Cox said in a Tuesday statement.
Arms Treaty Stymied by Second Amendment Concerns in Senate