Sen. Johanns pushes Law of the Sea Treaty ratification to the brink

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Since treaty ratification requires a two-thirds Senate majority, Johanns's addition to the list means treaty opponents are now only three votes short of blocking the entire measure. 

Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderWeek ahead: Lawmakers near deal on children's health funding Ryan suggests room for bipartisanship on ObamaCare Time to end fiscal year foolishness MORE (R-Tenn.) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSessions torched by lawmakers for marijuana move Calif. Republican attacks Sessions over marijuana policy Trump's executive order on minerals will boost national defense MORE (R-Alaska), along with Maine Republicans Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDemocrats search for 51st net neutrality vote Overnight Tech: States sue FCC over net neutrality repeal | Senate Dems reach 50 votes on measure to override repeal | Dems press Apple on phone slowdowns, kids' health | New Android malware found Overnight Regulation: Dems claim 50 votes in Senate to block net neutrality repeal | Consumer bureau takes first step to revising payday lending rule | Trump wants to loosen rules on bank loans | Pentagon, FDA to speed up military drug approvals MORE, are in favor of ratification, according to Heritage Action, the Heritage Foundation’s advocacy arm, which is lobbying against Senate approval of the deal. 

But officials from Alexander's office said the Tennessee Republican is still undecided on the treaty itself and weighing his options regarding ratification. 

Alexander "is still taking a look at it and his vote is not certain one way or the other," according to Chief of Staff Ryan Loskarn.

That said, anti-treaty advocates have targeted eight Senate Republicans to close that three-vote gap. 

Sens. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteLessons from Alabama: GOP, throw out the old playbook The Hill's 12:30 Report Explaining Democratic victories: It’s gun violence, stupid MORE (R-N.H.), Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranTrump's chief agricultural negotiator will fight for American farmers Rep. Cummings hospitalized, wife suspends gubernatorial campaign Medical cannabis community must join together and resist any action taken against us MORE (R-Miss), Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSenate campaign fundraising reports roll in Congress should take the lead on reworking a successful Iran deal North Korea tensions ease ahead of Winter Olympics MORE (R-Tenn), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziGOP is addressing tax cuts and a pension bill that could help coal miners Overnight Finance: Congress sends Trump funding bill to avert shutdown | WH sees 'tentative' deal on defense spending | GOP discovers corporate tax snag | Consumer bureau fight heats up | Apple could see B windfall from tax bill Overnight Finance: Congress sends Trump bill to avert shutdown | GOP discovers corporate tax snag | CFPB leadership battle rages MORE (R-Wyo.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDHS chief takes heat over Trump furor Overnight Defense: GOP chair blames Dems for defense budget holdup | FDA, Pentagon to speed approval of battlefield drugs | Mattis calls North Korea situation 'sobering' Bipartisan group to introduce DACA bill in House MORE (R-S.C.), Mark KirkMark KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns MORE (R-Ill.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanFlake's anti-Trump speech will make a lot of noise, but not much sense Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race Overnight Tech: Regulators to look at trading in bitcoin futures | Computer chip flaws present new security problem | Zuckerberg vows to improve Facebook in 2018 MORE (R-Ohio) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcCain rips Trump for attacks on press NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Meghan McCain says her father regrets opposition to MLK Day MORE (R-Ariz.) are on the list, according to Heritage Action. 

But McCain has already joined others in the Senate in support of the treaty, claiming it could be a much-needed check on an increasingly aggressive Chinese military in areas like the South China Sea. 

Administration officials have long tied treaty ratification to maintaining stability in places like the South China Sea and other maritime hot spots in the Pacific and around the world. 

Treaty opponents in the Senate argue the pact does nothing to guarantee regional security along the waterways in the Pacific or elsewhere. 

The White House would also effectively tie the hands of the U.S. Navy to conduct operations in the region, because those missions would have to be reviewed and approved by treaty members, opponents claim. 

Aside from national security priorities, treaty ratification would also hand over power to the International Seabed Authority to distribute a portion of oil and gas royalties from offshore operations. 

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld testified in June that relinquishing that kind of authority to an international body "based on rhetoric about common heritage of mankind" was simply unacceptable. 

Despite the political jockeying by proponents and opponents of the treaty, a ratification vote will not take place until after the November presidential elections, according to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John KerryJohn Forbes KerryFeehery: Oprah Dem presidential bid unlikely Dem hopefuls flock to Iowa Change in Iran will only come from its people — not the United States MORE (D-Mass.).

--the story has been updated at 3:32pm to include comments from Ryan Loskarn, chief of staff for Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)