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Promises, Export Treaty Promises

When the new British prime minister visited the White House, one of the meetings he had was with Sen. John Kerry, the man leading the effort to ratify the arms export treaties with Britain and Australia.

We hear that Kerry pledged David Cameron in late July that he would do his very best to shepherd the treaty through the Senate before it left for the August recess. Of course, that didn't happen, but we hear that other activities are under way. For one, so-called enabling legislation has been drafted and is being shepherded through the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committee staff. Demanded by some lawmakers such as Sen. Jon Kyl, who worry that they wouldn't have enough influence on the treaty once it's ratified. Sen. Richard Lugar, ranking member of the foreign relations panel, has reluctantly taken on the job of placating Kyl and his fellow conservatives who fear loss of control over the arms export process. The core of the new legislation was, we hear, drafted by the State Department who worry that Congress may offend the allies and possibly emperil the treaties, which took years to bring this far.

Britain has grown increasingly restive over the lack of progress in treaty ratification and Kerry and the Obama administration should expect to hear more about that if the threaty does not move as far to the front of the queue as possible when the Senate reconvenes next Tuesday.

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