Magazine article Arms Control Today

Congress Resisting Tight CWC Ratification Schedule

Magazine article Arms Control Today

Congress Resisting Tight CWC Ratification Schedule

Article excerpt

Clinton administration officials seeking speedy ratification of the chemical weapons disarmament treaty have run into resistance from Capitol Hill, which has balked at the tight schedule for Senate approval proposed by the administration.

At a January 11 briefing for Senate staffers, administration officials proposed that the Senate give its formal approval "by April or so," and to pass the required implementing legislation soon after, according to an official involved in the discussions.

Staffers, however, told the briefers that the process would probably take longer. "Our message was that the timetable was unrealistic. If they really wanted early ratification, they should have had it up here last summer," said one Senate source who suggested that initial hearings would not begin until mid-March. The Clinton administration formally transmitted the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification on November 24, 1993, some 10 months after the United States signed the agreement.

Hill staffers working on the problem also said that most senators have yet to focus on the highly intricate agreement, which bans the use, production, stockpiling, development and transfer of chemical weapons. In addition, a number of other issues accorded "priority status" by the administration are competing for the Senate's time, including the proposed overhaul of the Foreign Assistance Act, a draft of which the administration submitted to Congress a few days before submitting the chemical pact to the Senate for approval (see p. …

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