Rumsfeld returns to Capitol Hill

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will return to Capitol Hill for the first time since 2007 on Thursday to testify against a treaty supported by his former boss. 

Rumsfeld will argue against Senate ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty, a stance that pits him against President Obama, the U.S. military and President George W. Bush's administration, which also sought to move the treaty. 

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The former Defense secretary and other critics of the treaty argue it would be overly restrictive on the U.S. Navy and allow a U.N. body to directly tax American companies. In addition to the military, the oil and gas industries support the treaty, saying it’s in the U.S. interest to be able to help write international maritime law. 

Rumsfeld was President Reagan’s emissary to oppose the treaty back in 1982.

Rumsfeld ran the Iraq war for Bush, who replaced him as Defense secretary the day after the 2006 midterm elections, when Democrats won the House and Senate and fatigue over the war had reached a new plateau. 

Thursday's appearance for Rumsfeld at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be his first trip to Capitol Hill since 2007, when he was questioned about the case of Pat Tillman, the former NFL player killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan.

Foreign Relations is holding two hearings Thursday on the treaty. The first is with current Pentagon officials to show their support of the treaty, and the second will feature Rumsfeld to voice his opposition.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) said a vote would not come until after the November election at the earliest, when there are already a slew of hot-button issues on the docket.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is leading the opposition in the Senate over the treaty, and has a letter with 27 senators signaling their disapproval. The treaty needs a two-thirds vote to pass.

The House also attempted to stifle the treaty by adding a provision to the defense authorization bill last month that blocked funding to implement the treaty.

Joining Rumsfeld at the afternoon hearing is diplomat John Negroponte, a supporter of the treaty who has held administration posts going back to the Reagan years and was most recently deputy secretary of State under President George W. Bush.

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