Could the Senate Ever Ratify an International Climate Treaty?
The test of garnering a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority in the U.S. Senate for climate legislation has certainly led to plenty of teeth-gnashing. But despite all the coverage of the Copenhagen meeting, one issue that has received little or no attention is how that august body would respond to whatever international agreement—either this year or next—is embraced by the nearly 200 nations involved in the exercise. The starting point is the fact that, under the U.S. Constitution, two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes, are needed to ratify any international treaty. Wouldn’t that be next to impossible? “It’s a good question,” says Senator Bernie Sanders (I–VT). “That’s a large number,” agrees former senate climate aide Tim Profeta. Matt Dempsey, spokesperson for Senator James Inhofe (R–OK), who leads opposition to climate legislation in the Senate, doesn’t mince words: “No way.” But there’s another way, which Congress has often used, to avoid the problem of gaining 67 votes.