Not only did Senator Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, tell Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, that appropriate consideration of the New START Treaty could not happen in the lame duck session of Congress but also a bipartisan group of former Senators released a joint letter calling on the Senate’s Democratic and Republican leaders not to break with past precedent and ensure that the New START Treaty is considered only at such time as it can be carefully deliberated and fully debated. The move by Mr. Kyl could throw a wrench into the Obama administration’s relationship with Moscow over the nuclear arms agreement.
Sen. Kyl holds great sway in bringing Republican leadership over to his side on this, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Frank Gaffney at the Center for Security Policy criticized the Obama administration for trying to push a vote on the new START Treaty during the lame duck session:
“New START is a seriously defective bilateral arms control agreement with the Russians, one that would make dramatic and ill-advised cuts in the number of U.S. strategic weapons and delivery systems. To be ratified, such a treaty needs the affirmative votes of 67 Senators. President Obama believes he may be able to secure those votes if he makes utterly incredible promises to yesterday’s Senate, the one now running out the clock in a post-election “lame-duck” session.
Should Republicans currently in the Senate buy this pig-in-a-poke, they would be denying any opportunity to their newly elected colleagues to learn about, let alone seek improvements to a treaty that: will leave the United States with far fewer nuclear weapons than the Russians (and obsolescent ones, at that); imposes what amount to new constraints on missile defenses and prompt global strike weapons that are conventionally armed; and is, according to the Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, outgoing Senator Kit Bond of Missouri, inadequately verifiable.”
In the meantime, the fifteen signers of the letter supporting the Arizona Senator’s views on considering the New START Treaty after the lame duck session are:
Senators Rick Santorum, Jim Talent, Bill Armstrong, Norm Coleman, Conrad Burns, Slade Gorton, Hank Brown, Malcolm Wallop, George Allen, Roger Jepsen, Don Nickles, Steve Symms, Bob Smith, Wayne Allard and Zell Miller.
The authors warn that the present accord should not be the basis for departing from past, sensible practice due to New START’s deficiencies, including: the treaty’s potentially adverse effects on U.S. missile defenses; its lack of attention to Russia’s considerable advantage over the U.S. in tactical nuclear weapons, and the agreement’s inadequate verifiability.
Additionally, the former Senators stated that given the problematic implications of this treaty – it would be inappropriate for Senators serving in the lame-duck session to deny their recently elected successors the opportunity to properly consider and act upon a treaty that will be implemented on the watch of the 112th Congress.