Would Republicans Really Block Obama's Nuke Treaty?

Senate Republicans could stop the historic U.S.-Russia treaty

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President Obama signed the historic Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in Prague today. The treaty is poised to drastically reduce the number of nuclear warheads held by both nations and strengthen U.S.-Russia ties. But, as with any treaty, it requires 67 votes in the U.S. Senate to be ratified. (Correction: Treaties do not always require 67 votes. Rather, they require a 2/3 majority of the present Senators. If all 100 are present, this requires 67 votes to pass. But if only 75 are present, for example, it requires only 50 to pass.) This is typically just a formality, but given the GOP's recent obstructionist stance, could Republicans try to block it? As Greg Sargent asks, "will 'skeptics' like [GOP Sen.] Jon Kyl tie up the treaty in a broader debate about Obama’s alleged efforts to weaken American defenses?"

  • Lieberman: Sure I Would  Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman tweets, "My vote on START Treaty will depend on Admin's plan to sustain & modernize the smaller nuclear stockpile it envisions." He adds in a statement, "Any reductions in our nuclear stockpile must be accompanied by an appropriate modernization plan to bring our aging nuclear weapons complex, our warheads, and our delivery systems up to 21st century standards."
  • Maybe Just A Little  National Review's Daniel Foster writes, "My two cents, they'll definitely get the votes — not least because the Republicans' top foreign policy guy, realist Sen. Dick Lugar (R., Ind.) seems inclined to support it. Though, there is a small chance Senator Kyl (R., Ariz.) and some others might take a shot at trading START for missile defense (and more power to 'em)." However, "old Republican national security hands are already starting to come out of the woodwork and warn Senate GOPers off of obstructing the treaty on political grounds."
  • Gibbs: I Dare You  White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tweets the history of past weapons treaty Senate votes. "DC's next test - last 3 Senate votes on arms reduction treaties: INF 93-5 ('88), START I 93-6 ('92), & SORT 95-0 ('03) = bipartisan test."
  • They'll Have a Tough Time Finding an Excuse  Slate's Fred Kaplan suggest Republicans won't be able to find good reasons to oppose START. "Though Republicans in the Senate will be desperate to block a nuclear-arms treaty that adds to Obama's political luster, they will have a hard time mustering any objections to this treaty on substantive grounds ... It would be a huge stretch, even by contemporary Republican standards, to find anything wrong with this treaty."
  • Nihilist GOP Would Block Anything  Wonkette's Jim Newell gets cynical. "It would be unbelievably embarrassing to the United States if Senate Republicans blocked this crucial nuclear arsenal reduction policy right now, especially since it doesn’t have much teeth. For these reasons, it is likely that the Senate Republicans will block it."
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