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Posted at 6:21 PM ET, 12/14/2010

Senate decides to take up START treaty

By Mary Beth Sheridan

After months of hearings and intense negotiations, the Senate leadership announced Tuesday that it will proceed with a top priority of President Obama's -- ratification of the new U.S.-Russian nuclear-arms treaty -- despite objections from a key Republican.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters that the debate on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) would begin after the Senate vote on the tax bill, which was expected late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

Reid noted that Democrats had already postponed consideration of the treaty twice this year because of Republican concerns. "The time has come that we have to start voting and doing important things," he said. Obama has said the treaty is essential for national security and for maintaining good ties with Russia.

Senior Obama administration officials have said they have the 67 votes necessary to pass the treaty. But a key Republican challenged that assumption Tuesday.
Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz), the Senate's second-ranking Republican, said "I would discourage them" from bringing up the treaty. The Democrats, he told reporters, are "playing Russian roulette here."

Told that Reid believed he had the votes, Kyl responded: "I will resist the temptation to go over the record of things ... where the majority leader perhaps predicted something prematurely."

At least nine Republican votes would be needed to pass the treaty. Several Republicans have said in recent days that they are prepared to vote for the pact or are leaning toward doing so. But a critically influential Republican whom Senate Democrats had been wooing -- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) -- was still uncommitted because of concerns about the treaty's possible impact on the U.S. missile defense program, said his spokeswoman, Brooke Buchanan.

The treaty would limit the two countries to 1,550 deployed long-range nuclear weapons each, a reduction of up to 30 percent from current levels, and cut the number of heavy bombers, submarines and missiles that can carry the warheads. It also would re-launch inspections by each side of the other's arsenal, which lapsed last year when the START I treaty expired. The U.S. military has argued it needs such inspections so it knows what Russia is doing with its most dangerous weapons.

Kyl has pressed the administration to guarantee billions of extra dollars to modernize the aging nuclear-weapons complex as a condition for his support of the treaty. He has argued that there is not enough time in the lame-duck session to give the treaty full consideration.

By Mary Beth Sheridan  | December 14, 2010; 6:21 PM ET
 
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Posted by: quisai11 | December 14, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

This is once again the Republicans "stop Obama at any cost"! How about thinking about your country for once and not "whats in it for me"!

Posted by: janetal2004gmailcom | December 14, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

they best get the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, Job Creation Act of 2010 voted on first. So the House can vote. The House wants to amend, meaning it would go back to the Senate. So they are stuck with it again and START and every other thing (DREAM, DADT) gets pushed back again.

Waited all day for the vote on the tax cuts and haven't heard a word. Now it goes till tomorrow, Wednesday. Wasting time.

And as they waste this time, START, DREAM, DADT won't be addressed.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | December 14, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

The New Start Treaty should be shelved until the next Senate is sworn in. There is too much to consider and too much to debate. It is nonesense for the majority leader to force this now. He is wrong. This is not in the best interests of the county. Terrible decision.

Posted by: fiveman3 | December 14, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

You do not pass a treaty on the last day or second to last day of a lame duck session of Congress. Not going to happen.

Besides after the Senate votes on the tax bill Reid is going to send it over to the House that will tear it to pieces. The Senate should not move on to the START treaty until after a unified tax bill has been passed by both houses of Congress.

Posted by: screwjob23 | December 14, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Babe,

Read Kyl's comments closely. If he gets his $25+ billion a year estate tax cut he'll keep his mouth shut and vote for both.

How does it feel to be a hostage?

Posted by: boscobobb | December 14, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Leave it till next year.

Posted by: moebius22 | December 14, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse

There have already been hearings about this bill and former secretaries of state Kissinger and Schultz support it as is. Remember that Schultz was a major architect of foreign policy in the Reagan era. If there were any concerns other than giving Obama a "victory," they would have been voiced by these elder Republicans. Maybe Kyl will come around once he gets his estate tax cut.

Posted by: mikemorical | December 15, 2010 4:24 AM | Report abuse

You have an election . Afterwards the defeated are allowed to stay on for 2 months and vote upon and make new laws that affect all of America . Does this make sense ? Do you think that they will vote with the conscience they never had in the first place, or do you think they are above holding a grudge . Do you think that they don't figure :" Hey, it's my last chance to get a bundle before I leave " Like telling a ballplayer he's traded but can play in today's game for you . Yeah, I'll bet he'll break his AZZ in your behalf. Nov. 3, the day after the election is the day the defeated should be helped from his offices and in most cases run out of Washington , tarred and feathered and riding a rail . This action should be first on the list of new laws passed. That along with 2 year term limits . Putting up with the Pelosis, Reids, Dodds, Fwanks and the rest of Corruption for 20 years is too much to bear . They make enough in graft and blackmail in 2 years they don't need 20 to ruin the country even more.

Posted by: puck-101 | December 15, 2010 5:02 AM | Report abuse

There have been dozens of hearings, thousands of questions for the record and many CODELs and StaffDELs to various sites in the US associated with our nuclear weapons complex - this wasn't submitted to the Senate last week!

Like mikemorical wrote - multiple former statesman/woman on both sides of the aisle have endorsed this. It is less about the treaty says and more about what passing the treaty says. Kyl and his crew don't want to give Obama a victory.

Also it is worth noting that other arms control treaties were passed in 1-5 days with near unanimous votes - with many of those votes occurring during the Cold War when nuclear weapons were at the center of our national defense.

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Posted by: shoestrade433 | December 15, 2010 6:46 AM | Report abuse

If the $700 Billion PORK for the Richest 2% passes; Reid might be able to pass the Start Treaty!

Tell it like it is!

Posted by: ddoiron1 | December 15, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

They should just wait until the new session next year.

Or is this the REAL reason O'Bummer sold out the middle class and gave tax cuts to the wealthy?

Posted by: Benson | December 15, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

The problem is that we will abide by the treaty but the Russians won't. They'll continue to do as they please regardless of any treaty. It is beyond foolish to support this.

Posted by: commonlogic | December 15, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Passage of the START Treaty should happen this week. Also DADT and the Dream Act should be enacted as well. After nearly two years of discussions about these topics, the only thing left to do is vote and move on.

Posted by: classicskins | December 15, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Kyle and his fellow Repubs don't care if we, our children and grandchildren all blow up. Or, more likely, if we all die slowly from nuclear war fallout radiation. These repugnant people sink so far beneath contempt that contempt is out of their sight.

Posted by: jimsteinberg1 | December 15, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

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