Senators George Voinovich (R-OH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and David Vitter (R-LA) have dropped off the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with retired Sen. Chuck Hagel, while Roger Wicker (R-Miss) and Jim Risch (R-ID) have joined. “The Republican side, with the sole exception of Lugar, is now a very conservative group and could seek to frustrate international treaty ratification, e.g. Law of the Sea, Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT),” a Hill staffer notes.
This could be shaping up to a confrontation, as the committee’s chairman, John Kerry, has already made clear his strong support for ratifying treaties like the Law of the Sea and the CTBT (and has also evinced a personal commitment to environmental issues, dispatching himself as the Senate’s representative to last December’s climate change talks in Poland, as well as the previous talks in Bali). Even with a few gadflies on the committee, though, a concerted push should be enough to get votes on ratification to the full Senate, where they’ve been before, but where, perhaps this time around, they’ll fare better.
My guess is that the new committee members on the right won’t be too thrilled that climate emissary Al Gore is testifying next week on U.S. leadership in the fight against climate change.