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November 1, 2007
LOST Passes Senate Committe
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee easily passed the new Law of the Sea Treaty and sent it on for consideration by the full Senate where it is expected to meet stiff opposition:
Ratification of treaties takes a two-thirds vote. Republican leaders are trying to secure 34 signatures on a letter to show they have the support to block it and hope this will persuade President Bush and Senate Democrats to put off a vote until at least next year. It isn't so much the commercial aspect of the treaty that has conservatives up in arms although there has been some grumbling about a stacked deck against America if any dispute would go before a special tribunal. The problem is in the possibility of some kind of tax regime that could be foisted upon signatories as well as too much reliance on the tribunal for matters that should be left to individual states.
"Our leadership is united. This is something we shouldn't go forward with right now," said Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican. "I think we've got a good shot of getting 34 on it."
The committee voted 17-4 to approve the treaty. All four votes in opposition came from Republicans: Mr. DeMint and Sens. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Johnny Isakson of Georgia and David Vitter of Louisiana.
Mr. Bush, oil and gas companies, Senate Democrats and some key Senate Republicans support the treaty.
As it stands now, the vote would be close for passage.