Should Russian Nuclear Treaty Wait Until Next Year?

Republicans want it postponed, drastically reducing odds of passage

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Now that Senator Jon Kyl, Republicans' lead negotiator on New START, opposes holding a vote on the U.S.-Russia nuclear disarmament treaty this year, it looks much less likely to pass. The incoming Republican Senators have made clear their opposition, or at least skepticism, to the treaty. President Barack Obama has called on the Senate to ratify the treaty now, during the "lame duck" session, rather than waiting. The much-discussed arguments for and against the treaty aside, will the Senate vote on it before January, when it is more likely to pass, or after, when it is less likely?

  • Obama: Imperative This Gets Ratified  The L.A. Times' Michael Memoli writes, "President Obama on Thursday called the new START treaty with Russia a 'national security imperative,' ramping up pressure on the Senate to ratify it during the lame-duck session. ... Obama said Thursday that he was prepared 'to go the extra mile' to address those concerns, adding that the treaty has been vetted with 18 hearings, multiple briefings and support from military leadership. 'The stakes for American national security are clear, and they are high,' he said."
  • Incoming GOP Senators: Don't Vote  Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin reports on a letter signed by ten incoming GOP Senators calling on the Senate to avoid a vote until January. "The letter 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. ... But all 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."
  • Constitutionally, They Don't Have to Wait  The New America Foundation's Steve Clemons says the incoming Senators calling for a delay are "trying to undo the Constitutional authority of other elected incumbent US Senators. That's right. Even the so-called strict constitutionalist Rand Paul is engaged in lobbying that would impose illegal burdens on incumbent elected representatives violating the word and spirit of the United States Constitution. According to the 20th Amendment to the US Constitution, the respective terms of US Senators and US Representatives ends at noon on January 3rd." Clemons suggests that informal "lame duck" convention shouldn't erase that Constitutional authority.
  • Lame Ducks Shouldn't Vote on Anything  Writing in the Washington Post, Yale professor Bruce Ackerman insists, "This emergency rationale continues to be valid: If terrorists attack after Election Day, it's appropriate for a lame-duck session to consider the need for emergency legislation. But there's no need for a lame-duck Congress to meet when it comes to less-pressing matters. ... It is utterly undemocratic for repudiated representatives to legislate in the name of the American people." Outside the Beltway's Doug Mataconis largely agrees, posting an old West Wing clip that helps make the case.
  • GOP Sen. Lugar: We Need To Vote  Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin reports, "In a stunning rebuke to members of his own caucus, Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking Republican Richard Lugar(R-IN) said on Wednesday that the GOP is intentionally trying to put off a vote on the New START treaty with Russia, and avoiding a serious discussion about the treaty within the caucus. 'At the moment, the Republican caucus is tied up in a situation where people don't want to make choices,' Lugar told reporters in the hallway of the Capitol building Wednesday. 'No one wants to be counted. No one wants to talk about it.'"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.