Omnibus Agreement Blocks Funding for UN Arms Trade Treaty

The omnibus appropriations agreement reached by both parties and both houses of Congress prevents the implementation of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty by blocking any funding unless it's ratified by the Senate -- where the Obama administration doesn't have the votes.

“Last fall, the Obama Administration’s signed the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty in a direct dismissal of the American people and the bipartisan Senate majority that rejects this treaty,” Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) said.

“Throughout this process, it has been disturbing to watch the administration reverse U.S. policies, abandon its own ‘red line’ negotiation principles, admit publicly the treaty’s dangerous ambiguity, and hastily review the final treaty text," he added. "With the passage of the omnibus bill, it will be made unequivocally clear that Congress is committed to upholding the fundamental individual rights of Americans and rejects the ATT. We will not be bound by the treaty and we will not fund its implementation.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) unveiled the agreement yesterday, which includes all 12 appropriations bills. Mikulski and nearly 50 GOP and Democratic lawmakers worked together on the deal, building off the negotiations of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) at the end of last year.

"This agreement will not be viewed as perfect by everyone," Mikulski said. "It required difficult choices, and nobody got everything they wanted. But this agreement is what we need now to move the country forward by funding the critical missions of our government and investing in America’s greatest assets -- our people, our infrastructure, and the research and discoveries that will create jobs today and in the future."

"And at the same time, the agreement ensures the American people get value for their taxpayer dollars by ending dated, duplicative, and dysfunctional programs."

Mikulski said she expects the House and Senate to consider the package this week.

The language against Obama pushing forward with the UN pact states, “None of the funds appropriated by this Act may be obligated or expended to implement the Arms Trade Treaty until the Senate approves a resolution of ratification for the Treaty.”

In October, 50 senators including five Democrats wrote to Obama to advise that the treaty would not be approved and he shouldn't make promises surrounding its implementation. The Senate passed 53-46 an amendment in March to keep the U.S. from joining the treaty.

“We urge you to notify the treaty depository that the U.S. does not intend to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty, and is therefore not bound by its obligations,” they wrote.

They stated that their opposition to the treaty rests on:

  1. The treaty failed to achieve consensus, and was adopted by majority vote in the U.N. General Assembly. This violates the red line drawn by the Obama Administration;
  2. The treaty allows amendments by a three-quarters majority vote, circumventing the power and duty of the U.S. Senate to provide its advice and consent on treaty commitments before they are assumed by the United States;
  3. The treaty includes only a weak non-binding reference to the lawful ownership, use of, and trade in firearms, and recognizes none of these activities, much less individual self-defense, as fundamental individual rights. This poses a threat to the Second Amendment;
  4. The State Department has acknowledged that the treaty is “ambiguous.” By becoming party to the treaty, the U.S. would therefore be accepting commitments that are inherently unclear;
  5. The criteria at the heart of the treaty are vague and easily politicized. They violate the right of the American people, under the Constitution, to freely govern themselves. The language restricts the ability of the United States to conduct its own foreign policy and allows foreign sources of authority to impose judgment or control upon the United States; and
  6. The State Department has acknowledged that the treaty includes language that could hinder the United States from fulfilling its strategic, legal and moral commitments to provide arms to key allies such as the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the State of Israel.