Republican senator says sea treaty might 
pass after election

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) says she's hopeful that the Law of the Sea Treaty will pass Congress in the lame-duck session after the election, despite the fierce opposition of some conservatives. 

Murkowski told The Associated Press the sea treaty will have better prospects in the Senate when the fall campaign is over. The global maritime pact would establish de facto rules for the nation’s oceans, and business interests say it will create opportunities for offshore drilling.

“This is a treaty that I believe very strongly will contribute not only to our national security, but will allow us a level of certainly in accessing our resources in the north,” Murkowski said.

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Murkowski and Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) both support the treaty, and Murkowski has championed several other efforts to tap the state’s natural resources. The untapped deepwater oil and natural gas off Alaska’s coast could be a significant economic boon for The Last Frontier and the entire nation, she and many of her Republican colleagues argue.

“I don’t want us, as an Arctic nation, to abandon those opportunities, and we would be doing that if we fail to ratify the Law of the Sea treaty,” Murkowski said.

Senate Republicans thwarted passing the treaty in July by securing the 34 votes needed to block it. Since it is a treaty, the measure requires a two-thirds majority for approval.

Treaty opponents argue it would infringe upon national sovereignty by letting member nations refuse U.S. Navy operations in their territories. It also would give the International Seaboard Authority power to disburse some oil and gas royalties from offshore operations.

But with the powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is usually aligned with Republicans, backing the treaty and Democrats and President Obama also supportive, the lame-duck chances might indeed be better.

An aide for Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) posed that scenario in July, blaming the resistance on a “white-hot political campaign season.”

Still, Murkowski said the U.S. Chamber would have to make the treaty one of its top priorities to muster enough Republican votes in the cramped lame-duck session.