Rep. Kelly Urges President to Reverse Course on U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

Apr 3, 2014 Issues: Second Amendment Rights

Sends letter to White House on first anniversary of treaty’s adoption by United Nations

WASHINGTON — Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) authored and submitted a letter to President Obama on April 2, 2014 – the first anniversary of the majority-rule adoption by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly of the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) – reminding the president of the bipartisan letter he sent him last fall pledging to oppose the implementation of the treaty (to which the White House never responded) and reiterating that pledge, while encouraging the president to reconsider his administration’s support for the treaty.

Excerpts of Rep. Kelly’s letter to President Obama:

“I write to express my continued concern and regret at your decision to sign the treaty, at your failure to respond to the bipartisan letter which I led last fall, and at your efforts to implement the treaty without first obtaining the advice and consent of the Senate and implementing legislation, as required, by the full Congress.

“On October 15, 2013, I led 181 members of the House of Representatives in a letter to you pledging to oppose ratification of the treaty, and giving notice that we do not regard the U.S. as bound to uphold its object and purpose. In that letter, we set out six substantive concerns for this position, and invited your response.

“Though Assistant Secretary of State Tom Countryman stated in November that the administration is ‘ready to discuss [the treaty] with people who don’t agree with us . . . and have offered to do so . . . repeatedly with very little response,’ we have not received even the courtesy of an acknowledgement.

“I must conclude from this fact that your administration is not interested in responding substantively to the concerns we have raised. Particularly in view of our particular responsibility over the power of the purse, and of your proclaimed intention to rely on executive actions to achieve your policy objectives, I find this troubling.”

“I urge you to notify the treaty depository that the U.S. does not intend to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty, and is therefore not bound by its obligations. I reiterate my pledge to lead my colleagues in opposing the ratification of this treaty, and I repeat our previous notice that we do not regard the U.S. as bound to uphold its object and purpose. Lastly, I now urge you to end any and all efforts to implement the treaty before it passes completely through the entire U.S. ratification process, and thereby to show the respect for the constitutional processes that you are sworn to uphold.”

NOTE: 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.

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.