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House Passes National Defense Bill with Kelly Amendment to Ban Funding for UN Arms Trade Treaty
Annual amendment is strongest version to date;
bans funding for ATT secretariat to “implement” treaty;
protects Americans from domestic prosecution under treaty
WASHINGTON — Today the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016, which fully funds the United States Armed Forces and ensures that American troops have all the resources required to successfully defend the homeland and achieve their missions abroad. The legislation once again included an amendment introduced by U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) to continue the annual ban on funding by the Department of Defense for the implementation of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The amendment is the strongest version to date, updating the language of Rep. Kelly’s previous amendments that were enacted into law in previous NDAAs.
Rep. Kelly’s floor speech:
“I rise in strong support of my amendment to H.R. 1735, the Fiscal Year 2016 NDAA, to renew a one-year ban on the Obama administration from using any Department of Defense funds to implement the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.
“This amendment updates and strengthens the language of my amendments that were enacted into law in previous NDAAs.
“First, my amendment explicitly forbids the use of DoD funds to facilitate domestic prosecutions of individual Americans.
“This is a real danger because the Obama administration has already engaged in domestic prosecutions of individuals using treaties. This is unacceptable.
“Second, my amendment specifically bans the use of DoD funds for an ATT secretariat, created for ‘effectively implementing’ the ATT according to the treaty’s supporters.
“Appallingly, ATT backers seek to put the U.S. on the hook to fund the activities of a treaty to which it is not a party. This is also unacceptable.
“In conclusion, we must always uphold our fundamental, individual right to keep and to bear arms which are enshrined in our Constitution.
“We must always uphold our sovereignty and our arms export control system which is the gold standard in the world.
“I thank the chairman and the ranking member for including this amendment in this en bloc amendment. I urge my colleagues to stand with me in support of the Second Amendment, our nation's sovereignty, and vote in support of this amendment to renew the annual ban on the funding of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.”
BACKGROUND: Rep. Kelly is a national leader of the movement to stop the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
On March 15, 2013, he introduced H. Con. Res. 23, a bipartisan concurrent resolution expressing opposition to the treaty on behalf of members of Congress. The resolution earned 149 co-sponsors in the House and 36 supporters in the Senate.
On May 30, 2013, Rep. Kelly submitted a bipartisan letter with 130 co-signers from Congress to both President Obama and Secretary Kerry urging them to reject the treaty. He sent a similar bipartisan letter to the president following Secretary Kerry’s signing of the treaty on October 15, 2013, which was signed by 181 members of Congress, including multiple committee chairmen. A follow-up letter was sent to the White House on April, 20, 2014.
On April 1, 2014, Rep. Kelly authored and submitted four separate letters to the bipartisan leaders of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, the Subcommittee on Homeland Security, the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies requesting updated and strengthened language prohibiting federal funding of the ATT in each of the subcommittees’ respective appropriation bills for fiscal year 2015, including an explicit ban on the use of funds to engage in domestic prosecutions on the basis of the ATT. Each letter was co-signed by more than 80 members of Congress.
On May 22, 2014, the House passed H.R. 4335, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015, which included Rep. Kelly’s amendment to continue the Defense Department’s ban on funding for the ATT.
On September 5, 2014, Rep. Kelly submitted a letter to President Obama voicing opposition to the planned First Conference of State Parties (CSP) to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) – a UN-backed gathering to shape the future of the ATT – due to its exclusion of any organization critical of the treaty.
On December 16, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2015, which includes a ban on federal funding for the ATT’s implementation. The president signed the final version of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2015 (H.R. 3979) on December 19, 2014, which included a similar ban.
On March 2, 2015, Rep. Kelly sent a letter to President Obama co-signed by 34 new members of Congress elected in 2014 to express unified opposition to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and a firm commitment to deny any federal funding for the treaty’s implementation.
On March 25, 2015, Rep. Kelly again authored and submitted four separate letters to the bipartisan leaders of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, the Subcommittee on Homeland Security, the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. Each letter requested updated and strengthened language prohibiting federal funding of the ATT in each of the subcommittees’ respective appropriation bills for fiscal year 2016. Each letter was co-signed by 90 members of Congress.