Ten of the new incoming Republican senators Thursday
are planning to demand they get a say on the New START treaty, adding ten new
voices to the growing cacophony pushing for a delay in consideration of the
treaty until next year.
Election Day we were elected to represent the constituents of our respective
states in the Senate," the incoming Republicans wrote to Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid (D-NV), in a letter
(PDF) obtained by The Cable. "Out of
respect for our states' voters, we believe it would be improper for the Senate
to consider the New START Treaty or any other treaty in a lame duck session
prior to January 3, 2011."
was organized by Senator elect Roy Blunt
(R-MO) and was signed by both moderate and conservative incoming senators such
as Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Rand Paul (R-KY).
places yet another obstacle in the way of the Obama administration's intensive drive to hold a debate and ratification vote for the treaty this year. President Obama himself is meeting
Thursday with top members of his cabinet and key senators, not including GOP
treaty leader Jon Kyl, R-AZ, to devise a strategy to figure out how to take up the treaty now.
backroom negotiations between Kyl and Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) yesterday
still did not convince Kyl to back away from his Tuesday
statement that there's just not enough time during the lame duck session of
Congress to consider the treaty. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Wednesday doubled
down on her call for swift consideration of the treaty as a matter of
urgent national security, but GOP senators maintain they still haven't received
the details of Obama's $84 billion pledge for nuclear modernization and the
updated report on modernization that accompanies it.
that could be moot if the new GOP argument is to be that the newly elected
Senators-to-be have a right to be a part of the process. That's what Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who actually voted
for the treaty in committee, told The
Cable on Wednesday. And that's what those senators-elect are demanding now.
In the letter, the senators-elect
already indicate that they have real concerns with the treaty and might not
support ratification. First of all, the letter argues that the New START treaty
"would dramatically reduce the U.S. nuclear deterrent in a strategic
environment that is becoming ever more perilous." That's an assertion the
administration would disagree with strongly.
Secondly, the senators-elect are
demanding that the administration turn over the full negotiating record between
the U.S. and Russia, which they call "a critically important component in
putting the pact in full context." The administration has no intention of
meeting that demand.
Overall, the letter shows that if
the START treaty is delayed until next year, the path toward ratification in
2011 could be a really slow, long one.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
chairman Richard Lugar (R-IN) told The Cable Wednesday that he
believes Senate GOP leadership is simply trying to avoiding debating the
treaty altogether, in order to protect members from having to take what they
consider a tough vote.
Tea Party groups and the Heritage
Action for American lobbying organization have
been targeting GOP senators, including Kyl, warning them that a vote in
favor of New START could be used against them in a primary challenge in 2012.
senator has an obligation in the national security interest to take a stand, to
do his or her duty. Maybe people would prefer not to do his or her duty right
now," Lugar said. "Sometimes when you prefer not to vote, you attempt to
find reasons not to vote."
the full text of the letter after the break
November 18, 2010
Hon. Harry Reid
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
We write as newly elected members of
the United States Senate regarding a matter we believe should properly be
reserved for consideration until we are duly sworn in the 112th
Congress: The so-called "New START" arms treaty between the United States
and the Russian Federation.
On Election Day we were elected to
represent the constituents of our respective states in the Senate. One of
the most important tasks of the 112th Congress will be to carefully
consider measures that protect the national security of the United
States. And few matters will more directly impact our security than arms
control agreements like New START that would dramatically reduce the U.S.
nuclear deterrent in a strategic environment that is becoming ever more
Article II of the Constitution
grants the Senate the exclusive responsibility of giving advice and consent to
the President on treaties. Out of respect for our states' voters, we
believe it would be improper for the Senate to consider the New START Treaty or
any other treaty in a lame duck session prior to January 3, 2011. Indeed,
no bilateral strategic arms reduction treaty with the Soviet Union or Russia
has ever been ratified during a lame duck session.
Additionally we are hopeful to have
the opportunity, along with the full Senate, to review the treaty's negotiating
record, which is a critically important component in putting the pact in full
Proponents of this treaty, aware
that today's Senate is likely to support the agreement in higher numbers
without our participation, are urging the Senate to give its advice and consent
in the coming weeks. We call on you to defer action on this arms control
treaty until the Senate reconvenes in the 112th Congress and we are
able to participate fully and in an informed manner in its deliberations on New