Senate gears up for Law of the Sea Treaty push

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Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is leading the opposition and has already amassed at least 24 signatures on a letter opposing the treaty — 10 short of the 34 needed to defeat passage of a treaty, which requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate.

“The Law of the Sea Convention encompasses economic and technology interests in the deep sea, redistribution of wealth from developed to undeveloped nations, freedom of navigation in the deep sea and exclusive economic zones which may impact maritime security, and environmental regulation over virtually all sources of pollution,” the letter states.

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) said the hearing would be a good chance to inform panel members, all but four of whom are freshmen.

“The hearing will provide an opportunity for the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs and the State Department to make the case to our committee why they believe ratification of Law of the Sea is so important to our national security,” Kerry said in announcing the hearing. “We haven’t examined the treaty since 2007, and there are many new members of the committee who weren’t here for the last discussion.”

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations East Asian and Pacific Affairs subcommittee, applauded the decision.

“I have repeatedly called for ratification of the Law of the Sea to advance U.S. security, economic and environmental interests around the world,” Webb said in a statement. “The unresolved and increasing confrontations over sovereignty and other issues in the Pacific Ocean areas from Northeast to Southeast Asia — including those involving U.S. vessels — underscore the need for long-term, multilateral resolutions, such as those afforded by this treaty.

“I welcome Chairman Kerry’s decision to hold hearings on the treaty, as Sen. Coons and I requested on April 16. Past administrations — both Democratic and Republican — and the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and other branches of our armed forces support the convention. It is past time for the Senate to fulfill its constitutional duty to provide advice and consent of the treaty.”