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“I don’t want to be commenting in some prophylactic way one side or the other without the specific situation in front of me,” he said. “But I’m confident the president is committed to upholding the Constitution.”

Mr. Obama, however, already has taken steps to use administrative power as opposed to formal legislative remedies, in seeking tighter controls on guns in the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.

Mr. Kerry said that if Republicans and Democrats could get along better, then treaties were more likely to be submitted.

“There’s no better way to guarantee that whatever concerns you have about the president’s desire to move on an executive agreement would be greatly, you know, nullified or mollified if we could find a way to cooperate on a treaty or on the broader issues that face the nation,” Mr. Kerry said.

However, he added: “I think there’s a lot of frustration out there that some of the automatic ideological restraint here that prevents the majority from being able to express their voice has restrained people and pushed people in a way where they’ve got to consider some other ways of getting things done.”

Mr. Risch then said: “Well, and that’s exactly what concerns us, Sen. Kerry, is the fact that it’s OK to do this through the regular order if it gets done, but if it’s not going to get done, then the ends justify the means — [that] it’s OK to end-run around the Constitution.”

Mr. Risch said the nation’s founders “didn’t say do this if it’s convenient, and it’s OK to not do it if it’s not convenient. I have real difficulties with that.”

Mr. Obama last year promised unspecified “flexibility” after the election in seeking a missile defense agreement with Russia during an overheard discussion with then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.

The administration is also looking to conclude an additional arms-control agreement with Russia on nuclear weapons.

Hagel on Fort Hood

Sen. Chuck Hagel told Senate Armed Services Committee members this week in written responses to questions that he will review a Pentagon panel study that concluded the Defense Department could not identify key indicators of terrorist radicalization among service personnel, as part of efforts to prevent a repeat of the mass terrorist shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, more than three years ago.

However, in response to a question about Muslims in the military, Mr. Hagel said he would seek to prevent the persecution of Muslims in the aftermath of the deadly shooting.

Thirteen people were killed and 29 wounded when a gunmen identified as Maj. Hassan Nidal opened fire on fellow military personnel on Nov. 5, 2009. Reports at the time said the gunman was shouting “Allah Akbhar” — God is great. Maj. Nidal also has been linked to al Qaeda terrorists in Yemen from emails intercepted by the FBI.

After the attack, however, the Pentagon refused to identify the shooting as a terrorist attack and labeled the incident “workplace violence” in what critics said was an example of Obama administration political correctness.

Mr. Hagel said in his written responses that a Defense Science Board was asked by the Pentagon to study ways to identify “behavioral indicators of violence and self-radicalization,” but it “could not determine a specific list of behaviors that would indicate risk of violent/extremist behavior.”

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