House Votes to Block U.S. Landmine Ban

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The House of Representatives has voted to prohibit President Obama from implementing an international treaty banning anti-personnel landmines. 

The vote came in the form of an amendment offered by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) to the Department of Defense Approprations Act under consideration in the House. The provision blocks funds for the implementation of the Ottawa Treaty, a 1997 agreement which prohibits the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of anti-personnel mines.

The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.

The vote comes after reports that the Obama administration was nearing a decision to accede to the treaty. The White House has told RealClearDefense that the administration's review of U.S. landmine policy is still ongoing. "We will share outcomes from that process as soon as we are in a position to do so," National Security Council spokesman Caitlin Hayden said. 

Accession to the Ottawa Treaty could become a contentious issue between the House and Senate when the two bodies eventually negotiate the defense appropriations bill during a conference committee. Senate Democrats have long pressured the Obama administration to become a party to the treaty.

Military officials have expressed concern about a ban on U.S. landmines.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey testified before Congress in March of this year that he had rendered his military advice that landmines are "an important tool in the arsenal of the armed forces of the United States." 

A recent 30-page Joint Staff assessment detailed the dangers of a landmine ban with special concern for U.S. defense of South Korea, according to sources briefed on the report. However, the assessment remains classified.

Read more: Obama to Overrule Military on Landmines?

Dustin Walker is the Editor of RealClearDefense.

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