GOP WANTS MORE GOVERNMENT SPENDING BEFORE NEW START RATIFICATION…. The Obama administration’s new arms-control treaty with Russia has to be ratified. Of course, it takes 67 votes to approve a treaty in the Senate, which means finding eight Republicans mature enough to do the right thing.
To be sure, the treaty enjoys enthusiastic bipartisan support — mostly, with the exception of Sen. Dick Lugar, from Republican elder statesmen who are no longer in government. Officials like Brent Scowcroft, George Schultz, Colin Powell, former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Reagan Chief of Staff Howard Baker, former Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo.) have all urged the Senate to ratify New START.
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D) recently noted that if Senate Republicans block ratification of the treaty, “American credibility on nuclear issues would evaporate,” and every country that’s signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty would ask itself, “If the U.S. is unwilling to live up to its commitments, why should we live up to ours?”
With that in mind, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) has worked hard to advance New START, with bipartisan support, from his committee before the summer recess. Yesterday, he was forced to pull back — Republicans refused to get on board, despite the urging of GOP foreign policy experts.
Many U.S. allies had assumed New START would easily be ratified this year. The treaty commits the United States and Russia to modest cuts in their long-range, ready-to-use weapons and extends a 15-year system allowing each side to check the other’s nuclear facilities. It is the cornerstone of the Obama administration’s attempt to “reset” relations with Moscow.
The treaty has been endorsed by six former secretaries of state and five former secretaries of defense from both parties, and nearly all former commanders of U.S. nuclear forces. French Ambassador Pierre Vimont said recently that after diplomats cabled home that the treaty could run into problems, “People ask us, ‘Have you been drinking?’ “
The world probably doesn’t appreciate just how crazy congressional Republicans have become. Hell, I suspect most Americans don’t appreciate it, either.
In this instance, the main GOP complaint is that the Obama administration has called for spending $80 billion over the next decade on modernizing nuclear weapons facilities, and $100 billion on strategic bombers and long-range missiles that carry nuclear warheads.
Republicans are arguing that this isn’t enough, which is why they won’t let the treaty advance from committee.
In other words, the most important treaty this Congress will consider is stuck because Republicans want to increase spending.
Kerry intends to move the treaty after the recess, and the leadership wants it on the floor before the Congress adjourns. We’ll see.