In Monday's Washington Post, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wrote an op-ed urging senators to approve New START, the arms control treaty that would once again allow U.S. inspectors access to Russian missile silos, and decrease the number of nuclear weapons held by both countries. The old START treaty expired last December.
"Time is running out for this Congress," they wrote, detailing what's at stake if the Senate doesn't approve of the treaty. "The New START Treaty also deserves prompt ratification. Our national security depends on it," they concluded.
But on Tuesday, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, the crucial Republican vote to ratify the New START Treaty, said he doesn't think the treaty should be voted on in the lame duck session.
"When Majority Leader Harry Reid asked me if I thought the treaty could be considered in the lame duck session, I replied I did not think so given the combination of other work Congress must do and the complex and unresolved issues related to START and modernization," said the senator from Arizona.
Administration officials, frustrated with Kyl's stubbornness, are now uncertain about his motives.
They even sent a team to Arizona to present him with the administration's response to his requests, including the broad outlines of the additional $4 billion offer for modernization, one official said.
According to this administration official, Kyl asked the administration to secure the full 2011 budget request for modernization, to expedite the budget process for 2012, to show him the 2012 budget request before the Senate vote on New START, and to update the long-term plan that was submitted to Congress in May on modernization.
"They asked us for certain things, we worked through the process to give it to them," the administration source said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is waiting for the administration to strike a deal with Kyl before scheduling the debate and vote on New START. Reid's spokesman Jim Manley told The Hill, "Now that the election is over, hopefully the White House and Senate Republicans can reach an agreement that will allow us to ratify the treaty by the end of the year."
Read the full story at Foreign Policy's The Cable.