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Mr. LEE. Mr. President, reserving the right to object, I would like to take just a few moments to explain why I plan to object.
I have right here a letter that is signed by 36 Members of this body who express the viewpoint that because of the prerogative we have as U.S. Senators to ratify treaties--see, two-thirds of us have to provide our advice and consent to ratify a treaty before it can take effect. This is important, in part because article VI, section 2 tells us that once ratified, the treaty becomes the supreme law of the land.
We have 36 Senators on this letter--a letter addressed to Leader McConnell and Leader Reid--explaining that for various reasons we do not think any treaty should come up for ratification during the lameduck period of the 112th Congress, and we explain that no treaty should be brought up during this time period and conclude that we will oppose efforts to consider any treaty during this time period.
The primary reason cited in the letter is the fact that it is very important to make sure we have a full understanding of what these treaties mean. It is also important that before we undertake any significant changes to the law--law becoming supreme law of the land--we need to understand the implications of these treaties fully.
If it is true, as 36 Members of this body concur in this letter, that it is too fast to move something like this or another treaty through during the lameduck session of the 112th Congress, it follows a fortiori that it is also too fast to do it now. With regard to this particular treaty, we have had exactly one--and only one--hearing on this, on July 26 of this year.
I appreciate and respect the words of my friend, my distinguished colleague, the senior Senator from Illinois, and I am pleased with the fact that he is comfortable with the language of the treaty. I and some of my colleagues are not yet comfortable with it, and I and some of my colleagues are not yet convinced as to the full ramifications of the language of this proposed treaty. I, therefore, object.
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Mr. LEE. Mr. President, with great respect to my distinguished colleagues who are supporting this treaty and supporting a move to move it to the floor for a full vote right now, I understand and appreciate that they may not share some of the concerns expressed in this letter, concerns surrounding the fact that treaties, once ratified, become the law of the land, the supreme law of the land, concerns surrounding the fact that many Americans may have concerns about this, concerns that may be expressed during the upcoming election season.
To the extent this becomes a matter of debate, it may have an impact on the election. I think this might have been part of what motivated 36 Senators to sign this letter saying that neither this treaty nor any other treaty ought to be voted upon during the lameduck session.
With regard to the comment made by my friend from Illinois, the senior Senator from Illinois moments earlier, I, of course, understand we are not now in a lameduck session. That is my entire point. If it is true that the lameduck session is too soon to consider treaties, it follows a fortiori, it is a much stronger point to make the point now that it is too soon to consider this now.
With regard to the Law of the Sea Treaty, we have held a number of hearings--I cannot remember exactly how many--in the Foreign Relations Committee. I want to say at least three, four, maybe five, this year. We have had exactly one hearing on this one. I understand that some of my colleagues
might be satisfied with the assurances provided by some lawyers within the State Department to the effect that this is entirely compatible with U.S. law to the effect that it would not impose any additional, new, different obligations on U.S. law. I am not satisfied that that is the case. I therefore object.
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