Adding to the chorus of GOP voices who say there is no time in this ever-shortening lame-duck session to ratify Obama's New START arms-reduction treaty with Russia, 10 of the incoming Republican senators-elect asked the president today not to push ahead until they get sworn in.
From a letter, sent today by the senators-to-be:
On Election Day we were elected to represent the constituents of our respective states in the Senate. One of the most important tasks of the 112th Congress will be to carefully consider measures that protect the national security of the United States. And few matters will more directly impact our security than arms control agreements like New START that would dramatically reduce the U.S. nuclear deterrent in a strategic environment that is becoming ever more perilous.
Article I of the Constitution grants the Senate the exclusive responsibility of giving advice and consent to the President on treaties. Out of respect for our states' voters, we believe it would be improper for the Senate to consider the New START Treaty or any other treaty in a lame duck session prior to January 3, 2011. Indeed, no bilateral strategic arms reduction treaty with the Soviet Union or Russia has ever been ratified during a lame duck session.
Additionally we are hopeful to have the opportunity, along with the full Senate, to review the treaty's negotiating record, which is a critically important component in putting the pact in full context.
The signers are: John Boozman (AR), Rob Portman (OH), Jerry Moran (KS), Mike Lee (UT), Ron Johnson (WI), John Hoeven (ND), Kelly Ayotte (NH), Rand Paul (KY), Marco Rubio (FL).
Absent form the list is Illinois' Mark Kirk, who has served as a naval intelligence officer and whom the Obama administration has lobbied on START.
And on the other side, the administration is quite unlikely to assent to this request, having faced it down before. Their argument that START should get ratified now: It's been on the table for months, and inspections of Russian nukes won't resume until the Senate approves it, plus it makes Obama look bad to the Russians and could set back improved relations if the Senate holds it up any longer.