House approves bill implementing nuclear, anti-terror treaties

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the bill's sponsor, said it would bring U.S. law into compliance with the four international treaties, allowing their full ratification.

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"This legislation was prepared in full cooperation with our Democratic colleagues on the committee, following months of work by committee staff in consultation with the Departments of Justice and State," Sensenbrenner said.

One international agreement covered by the bill is the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, which was signed by President Bush in 2005. That convention requires the U.S. to criminalize unlawful acts relating to the use of radioactive material and radiological dispersal devices and damage to nuclear facilities.

Three other conventions agreed in 2005 are also covered by the bill. One is the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, which calls for the criminalization of nuclear smuggling and sabotage of nuclear facilities.

The second is the 2005 Protocol to the 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, which requires criminal penalties for targeting ships or platforms in terrorist acts. And the third is the 2005 Protocol to the 1988 Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf, which criminalizes acts against maritime platforms.

Also Monday, members passed H.R. 258, the Stolen Valor Act. This bill would make it illegal to lie about earning military medals if those lies result in a financial benefit. Members also approved this bill in a 390-3 vote, a similar margin seen in House passage in the last Congress.

The bill is needed because the Supreme Court has found unconstitutional a law that made it illegal to lie about having earned military medals. While not endorsing this practice, the Court said lying about earning medals is protected free speech.

However, the Court strongly suggested that the law would be seen as constitutional if it made it illegal to lie about military medals for a financial gain. The House quickly passed a bill making this change last year, although the Senate failed to consider it before the end of the last Congress.

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