A group of Senate conservatives has gathered enough support to block any treaties that come up for a vote during the lame duck session.
A total of 36 Senators pledged, in a letter drafted by Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) to Majority and Minority leaders Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), to “oppose efforts to consider a treaty during” the lame duck session.
Because treaties require a two-thirds majority in the Senate to reach the president’s desk, the group of Senators will be able to block any treaties considered after the Nov. 6 election.
“The writers of the Constitution clearly believed that all treaties presented to the Senate should undergo the most thorough scrutiny before being agreed upon,” the letter states. “The American people will be electing representatives and senators in November, and the new representatives carrying the election mandate should be afforded the opportunity to review and consider any international agreements that are outstanding at the time of their election.”
Some Senators had expressed hope that their house would ratify the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (commonly known as the Law of the Sea Treaty) in a lame duck session. The treaty was blocked earlier this year by Senators who noted that it would cede some level of U.S. sovereignty to an international body, force the United States to forgo some level oil and gas royalty revenue, and would produce few tangible benefits.
The Heritage Foundation’s Steve Groves testified on LOST before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
A U.N. treaty on persons with disabilities may also be considered during a lame duck session. Lee this week blocked an attempt to pass that treaty by unanimous consent. “For various reasons we don’t think any treaty should come up during the lame duck time period and we will continue to oppose any treaty passage,” Lee said. “If it is true that it is too fast to move a treaty through during a lame duck, then it’s also too fast to move it through now.”
Here is a copy of Lee’s letter to Reid and McConnell: