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

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 AlexanderMaternal deaths keep rising in US, raising scrutiny Supreme Court weighs future of online sales taxes Senators press administration on mental health parity MORE (R-Tenn.) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenators press administration on mental health parity Overnight Energy: Watchdogs unveil findings on EPA, Interior controversies | GAO says EPA violated law with soundproof booth | IG says Zinke could have avoided charter flight | GOP chair probes Pruitt's four email addresses GOP fractures over push to protect Russia probe MORE (R-Alaska), along with Maine Republicans Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Energy: Trump NASA pick advances after drama | White House office to investigate Pruitt's soundproof booth | 170 lawmakers call for Pruitt to resign Trump's NASA nominee advances after floor drama Family, friends mourn death of Barbara Bush 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 AyotteAudit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years No, the US did not spend million on a gas station in Afghanistan MORE (R-N.H.), Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranChamber of Commerce makes play in Mississippi Senate race for Hyde-Smith Shelby approved as Appropriations panel chairman Cindy Hyde-Smith sworn in as Mississippi's latest senator MORE (R-Miss), Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump backs Blackburn's Tennessee Senate bid Senate committee sets Monday vote even as Pompeo appears to lack support Corker has 'no idea' if Trump will run for reelection MORE (R-Tenn), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziSupreme Court weighs future of online sales taxes The Hill's Morning Report: Hannity drawn into Cohen legal fight Budget chairman floats plan to eliminate his own committee MORE (R-Wyo.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination Senate panel moving ahead with Mueller bill despite McConnell opposition Overnight Defense: Lawmakers worry over Syria strategy | Trump's base critical of strikes | Flake undecided on Pompeo | Coast Guard plans to keep allowing transgender members | GOP chair wants to cut B from Pentagon agencies MORE (R-S.C.), Mark KirkMark Steven 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 PortmanTax rules will be subject to more OMB review under new memo Ending sex trafficking tomorrow requires preventing child abuse today Doctors bristle at push for opioid prescription limits MORE (R-Ohio) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainHeitkamp becomes first Dem to back Pompeo for secretary of State Senate committee sets Monday vote even as Pompeo appears to lack support Trump checkmates Democrats in sending Pompeo to North Korea 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 KerryNorth Korea is moved by Pompeo diplomacy, but Dems dig in deeper Ex-Obama official Marie Harf, Guy Benson to co-host Fox News Radio show Five things to know about Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska 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.)