Delays for the sake of delays, cont’d

DELAYS FOR THE SAKE OF DELAYS, CONT’D…. After eight months of Senate consideration of the pending nuclear arms control treaty, New START, Republicans are still complaining the process is moving too quickly. The latest problem is over amendments.

Now, when it comes to the nature of treaties — which are negotiated by the executive branches of the U.S. and the other country — senators can’t come in with changes they’d like to see. They can, however, push amendments that would force related policy changes that the administration would have to follow, and in the case of New START, Republicans have said they need more time to bring these ideas to the floor for debate.

Fine, Democrats said, let’s have the debate. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), one of the leading champions of the treaty, went to the floor yesterday to invite Republicans with concerns to present their amendments for consideration. It was, by some accounts, the moment the GOP has been waiting for — a chance to present their recommended policy changes and have them voted on.

Except, that’s not what happened. Kerry kept asking Republicans to present their amendments so the Senate could vote on them, but GOP detractors of the treaty had nothing to offer. They had demanded time for their amendments, but hadn’t bothered to actually write any.

Kerry, who’d been patient all day, just about lost it after waiting for five hours for Republicans to use their time the way they said they intended to use it. Kerry, perhaps assuming his GOP colleagues were acting in good faith before, and were sincere in their concerns about the time allotted, was just exasperated upon realizing that Republicans didn’t even take their own complaints seriously.

“We’ve reached a new stage in America where you just say something; it doesn’t matter if it’s based on the truth ” Kerry said, speaking without a prepared text. “Just say it. Put it out there — somebody’s going to believe it, someone will pick it up.”

I don’t know Kerry personally, but watching him, it seemed as if he’s just a little sad about what’s become of the institution. Senator, if you’re reading, you’re not the only one.