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 AlexanderSticking points force stimulus package talks to spill into Sunday GOP drafting stimulus package without deal with Democrats Senate coronavirus stimulus talks spill into Saturday MORE (R-Tenn.) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP senators urge Saudi Arabia to leave OPEC Schumer: Senate should 'explore' remote voting if coronavirus sparks lengthy break Turning the virus into a virtue — for the planet MORE (R-Alaska), along with Maine Republicans Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP presses for swift Ratcliffe confirmation to intel post Campaigns pivot toward health awareness as races sidelined by coronavirus Senate eyes quick exit after vote on coronavirus stimulus package 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 AyotteLobbying World On the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump GOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs MORE (R-N.H.), Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranEspy wins Mississippi Senate Democratic primary Bottom Line Mike Espy announces Mississippi Senate bid MORE (R-Miss), Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerMcConnell, Romney vie for influence over Trump's trial RNC says ex-Trump ambassador nominee's efforts 'to link future contributions to an official action' were 'inappropriate' Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight MORE (R-Tenn), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziThe Hill's Morning Report - Can Sanders be stopped? Lawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts Republicans scramble to avoid Medicare land mine MORE (R-Wyo.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump says he's considering restricting travel to coronavirus 'hot spots' Coronavirus crisis scrambles 2020 political calculus Trump reviews Pelosi on morning TV: 'She wasn't bad' MORE (R-S.C.), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkOn the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Biden campaign releases video to explain 'what really happened in Ukraine' Why Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry MORE (R-Ill.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP senator to donate 2 months of salary in coronavirus fight Senators pen op-ed calling for remote voting amid coronavirus pandemic Some Democrats growing antsy as Senate talks drag on MORE (R-Ohio) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senator suspending campaign fundraising, donating paycheck amid coronavirus pandemic Biden's pick for vice president doesn't matter much Juan Williams: Biden's promises on women are a big deal 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 KerryPoll: More Republican voters think party is more united than Democratic voters Biden's pick for vice president doesn't matter much Longtime Biden adviser posthumously tests positive for coronavirus 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.)