Opponents of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea believe they have the necessary votes to block ratification. Supporters say election year politics are slowing the process.
Only the Senate can ratify a treaty – and it takes 67 votes. A letter of opposition that has been circulating for months now has 34 signatures – enough to prevent passage.
Senator Lisa Murkowski, a vocal supporter of the treaty, says passage is much more difficult now.
“When you’re looking for 67, and you need every vote, you count everyone very, very carefully. I’ve been disappointed with these latest names that have been added to the list of those who oppose,” Murkowski said.
That list includes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Ohio Senator Rob Portman. Portman has been floated as a potential Republican vice-presidential pick.
Countless business groups – from the Chamber of Commerce, to the American Petroleum Institute – military leaders and the secretaries of state and defense support the treaty.
Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced earlier this year he’d wait until after the November election to bring up a vote.
The intent, he said at the time, was to prevent election-year politics from getting in the way.
His office says he’ll still try to move ahead with ratification.