George Will has another trenchant column on the politics of “global warming” today, noting that “Democrats could demand that the president send the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate so they can embrace it.” Yes, they could, but they won’t. President Bush could “transmit” the document to the Senate seeking a vote, which he won’t.
Neither step is a condition precedent to the Senate voting on Kyoto, however.
There is no requirement in the Constitution or statute that the President ask the Senate to vote on a duly signed treaty before the Senate may do so. Period.
The closest thing to such a requirement is the Case-Zablocki Act, which requires that the texts of international agreements other than treaties, entered into by the United States subsequent to August 22, 1972, be transmitted to the Congress as soon as practicable after such agreement has entered into force with respect to the United States.
Treaties quite clearly are not bound by this. Or by any similar requirement.
So, given the rhetoric about “greatest threat!,” Bush’s “irresponsibility,” and the like, such rhetoric– which, by the way, is used for full political effect overseas–one might think that at least one hand-wringing Senator would take the initiative to attain a vote on Kyoto.
That presumes that the rhetoric is serious. It isn’t. It is shamelessly political. It also presumes that Bush will not fight back. To date, that presumption is correct. Thanks to George Will mentioning the idea of Bush suggesting a vote at least twice, however, the relevant issues might just enter the parlance in the proper circles.
Frankly, were Bush to now, finally, transmit the treaty even without a recommendation of ratification or rejection, he would set himself up for (disingenuous) claims of “oh, well, it’s too late now. Nice job!” Instead, he ought to promptly and aggressively begin wondering aloud why no Senator who believes such things as are said about this issue has ever even asked him to send it up let alone asked her colleagues to join her in a vote.
This is like energy taxes as a policy response. Some of my esteemed colleagues apparently miss the nuance distinguishing “well, then let’s have big energy tax increases!” from “if you’re serious, please explain why you do not propose big energy tax increases?”
The same principle applies in this instance.