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– Frank von Hippel
Co-Director of Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
June 1, 2018
Congress Bans Funds for Arms Trade Pact

Jefferson Morley

Congress has barred the Obama administration from spending any money to implement the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which was signed by Secretary of State John Kerry last September.

The fiscal year 2014 omnibus appropriations bill, signed into law by Obama on Jan. 17, says that none of the funds covered by the legislation “may be obligated or expended to implement the Arms Trade Treaty until the Senate approves a resolution of ratification for the Treaty.”

“Congress is committed to upholding the fundamental individual rights of Americans and rejects the ATT,” Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a Jan. 14 statement. “We will not be bound by the treaty and we will not fund its implementation.”

Moran and other opponents say the treaty compromises U.S. sovereignty and threatens rights guaranteed by the Constitution’s Second Amendment.

Supporters say the ATT will regulate international trade in conventional weapons, enforce arms embargoes on rogue states, and ban the sale of weapons that might be used in human right abuses or organized crime. The treaty also calls for the establishment of national control systems to regulate trade in conventional arms, ammunition, and weapons parts. (See ACT, December 2013.)

The treaty was approved by the UN General Assembly last April by a vote of 154-3. The only countries to vote against it were Iran, North Korea, and Syria. The treaty will enter into force when 50 states ratify it. To date, nine states have ratified it.

The Obama administration has not announced when it will submit the ATT to the Senate, saying only that other previously signed treaties will come first.