Rep. Kelly Seeks to Renew Funding Ban for UN Arms Trade Treaty in FY 2017 Appropriations Bills

Mar 17, 2016

100+ Members of Congress co-sign letters in support of Kelly amendments to prohibit ATT funding

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) issued the following statement today regarding four letters he authored and submitted 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 language prohibiting federal funding of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in each of the subcommittees’ respective appropriation bills for fiscal year 2017.

The letters can be viewed here, here, here, and here.

Statement by Rep. Kelly:

“The power of the purse is a critical weapon in our fight to stop the ATT from ever being implemented. The sovereignty of our country and the rights of our people are far too precious to be left vulnerable to this dangerous treaty. Especially with this president’s appetite for unilateral, unconstitutional action overwhelmingly apparent, our vigilance matters more than ever.

“The ATT is an outrageous agreement that would force the United States – the world’s most important defender of peace and democracy – onto equal footing with the world’s worst dictatorships and terror-sponsors. It can be easily politicized by bad actors to try to stop America from providing arms to our friends and allies, including Israel. Ominously, the treaty excludes any specific protection for the fundamental right of individuals to keep and bear arms, which opens the door to domestic gun control impositions.”

NOTE: Signatories of Rep. Kelly’s letters include 6 committee chairmen: Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX), Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL), as well as Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill Flores (R-TX).

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 September 5, 2014, Rep. Kelly submitted a letter to President Obama voicing opposition to the planned First Conference of State Parties (CSP) to the ATT – a UN-backed gathering to shape the treaty’s future – 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 final version of the National Defense Authorization Act (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 ATT and a firm commitment to deny any federal funding for the treaty’s implementation.

On May 15, 2015, the House passed H.R. 1735, NDAA for Fiscal Year 2016, which once again included an amendment introduced by Rep. Kelly to continue the annual ban on funding by the Department of Defense for the implementation of the 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.