Obama: Hey, let’s bypass the Senate on treaty ratifications

Ed Morrissey Posted at 2:40 pm on July 05, 2009

After listening to the Democrats screech for the last two years about the rule of law, this Jake Tapper report should be surprising …. but it’s not.  Apparently, Barack Obama finds treaty ratification a little too complicated, and so he figures he can just commit the US to nuclear disarmament and bypass Congressional oversight:

With the clock running out on a new US-Russian arms treaty before the previous Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, expires on December 5, a senior White House official said Sunday said that the difficulty of the task might mean temporarily bypassing the Senate’s constitutional role in ratifying treaties by enforcing certain aspects of a new deal on an executive levels and a “provisional basis” until the Senate ratifies the treaty.

“The most ideal situation would be to finish it in time that it could be submitted to the Senate so that it can be ratified,” said White House Coordinator for Weapons of Mass Destruction, Security and Arms Control Gary Samore. “If we’re not able to do that, we’ll have to look at arrangements to continue some of the inspection provisions, keep them enforced in a provisional basis, while the Senate considers the treaty.”

Samore said administration lawyers are exploring the “different options that are available. One option is that both sides could agree to continue the inspections by executive agreement; that would work on our side. On the Russian side, as I understand it, that would require Duma approval.”

The fact that the administration is preparing for such an extraordinary measure shows just how much pressure the two administrations are under to arrive at an agreement before the 18-year-old treaty expires.

Uh, pardon me, but how many seats in the Senate does Obama’s party hold?  Isn’t it 60?  If Obama is simply moving forward with a straightforward, supportable treaty with Russia to reduce nuclear stockpiles in an effective verification system, why couldn’t he get a quick ratification?  The GOP gave George H. W. Bush enough support in 1991 to pass the original START treaty, so it’s not as if ratification would be impossibly complicated.

Well, that is, if the deal actually does put in place an effective verification system and doesn’t amount to a de facto unilateral disarmament.  With exactly five months to win Senate approval, the effort by the Obama White House in floating this idea now makes it sound like Obama wants to give away the store in order to score some points with his 1980s no-nukes agenda.  And as much as the Democrats howled over the supposed devotion of George Bush to a “unitary executive,” Obama seems to have no trouble bypassing the check on executive power for treaty negotiation written explicitly into the Constitution, in Article II, Section 2:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;

Words.  Just words.

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