Rep. Kelly Enlists House Freshmen in Fight to Stop UN Arms Trade Treaty
Sends letter to President Obama co-signed by 34 new members
of Congress expressing full opposition to treaty
Treaty threatens US sovereignty, lawful firearm ownership,
and allies including Israel
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) issued the following statement today after sending 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) – which has been signed by the Obama administration but never submitted to the U.S. Senate for ratification – and a firm commitment to deny any federal funding for the treaty’s implementation.
Statement by Rep. Kelly:
“I thank and applaud each of these new representatives for joining the fight to stop this dangerous treaty. They join leaders in both parties and both houses of Congress in not only opposing the ATT but also vowing to use our power as legislators to prevent it from ever being unilaterally implemented by this or any future administration. Together, we will safeguard the Constitutional rights of all Americans and the security of our closest allies abroad by ensuring that the ATT is never permitted to affect our nation’s policies.”
Excerpts of letter to President Obama:
On October 15, 2013, I had the honor to lead 181 members of Congress in a bipartisan letter to you opposing the ratification of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty and its implementation in law. Today, an additional 34 members of Congress elected in 2014 join me in expressing their whole-hearted opposition to this treaty, based on the six concerns set out in that letter, which they fully support.
I note, with deep concern, that the Arms Trade Treaty is now being described as a global and legally binding treaty – whereas in fact it has only been ratified by 62 nations – that has as one of its main objectives the prevention of the diversion of firearms, which implies that treaty supporters seek to use it to impinge on the lawful ownership, use of, and trade in firearms.
As members of Congress, we pledge to support the Senate in opposing the ratification of this treaty, and we give notice that we do not regard the U.S. as bound to uphold its object and purpose.
Further, we regard this treaty as non-self-executing, and we oppose the passage of implementing legislation that is necessary for it to have any domestic effect. Lastly, as members of the House of Representatives, which is particularly invested with the power of the purse, we oppose the use of any funds to implement the 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 currently has 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 June 14, 2013, Rep. Kelly introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014 to prohibit federal funding for the implementation of the ATT for one year by the Department of Defense. The amendment was adopted unanimously by a voice vote and included in the final passage of the NDAA by the House of Representatives. The House-Senate compromise NDAA, which included an updated version of the Kelly amendment, was passed by the House on December 12, 2013; passed by the Senate on December, 19, 2013; and signed by President Obama on December 26, 2013.
On July 24, 2013, the House Appropriations Committee approved the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2014 which imposes a one-year ban on the use of federal funds for the implementation of the ATT by the State Department. The ban is based on language from a bipartisan letter which Rep. Kelly authored and submitted to the State and Foreign Operations subcommittee on April 18, 2013. A version of this ban was integrated into H.R. 3547, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, which temporarily funded the government between October 1, 2013 and January 15, 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 30, 2014, the House passed the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2015, which included language requested by Kelly to ban ATT funding by the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and other related agencies.
On June 20, 2014, the House passed the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2015 by a bipartisan vote of 340-73, which included language requested by Rep. Kelly to prohibit any funding by the Department of Defense for the implementation of the ATT for one year. On June 24, 2014, the full Appropriations Committee approved language to ban ATT funds in the FY 2015 State and Foreign Ops bill following Rep. Kelly’s letter to the subcommittee.
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 organizations 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 NDAA for Fiscal Year 2015 (H.R. 3979) on December 19, 2014, which included a similar ban.