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Posted at 4:20 PM ET, 12/15/2010

START stopped?

By Jennifer Rubin

Jackson Diehl reported on the latest problem for the administration regarding START ratification. As a simple vote-counting measure, it appears the White House is one vote short. Eight Republican Senators -- Jon Kyl, Lamar Alexander, John Thune, Chris Bond, Orrin Hatch, Saxby Chambliss, George LeMieux and Mark Kirk -- who were critical votes for the White House to sway -- have come out in an afternoon press conference against ratification.

Bond's office released excerpts of his remarks this afternoon: "There are a number of problems with this treaty - from requiring unilateral cuts to our arsenal to giving Russia essentially a 'vote' on missile defense decisions. But as Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, my biggest problem with this very flawed treaty is that the U.S. will lack any reliable means of verifying Russian compliance with its warhead limit. Unless your head has been buried in the sand the last 50 years, you can't ignore that Moscow has a very poor track record of complying with arms treaties. Members on both sides of the aisle have been throwing around words like irresponsible. In my book, there is nothing MORE irresponsible than for any of my colleagues to vote to ratify this treaty BEFORE reviewing the very disturbing classified information on this verification issue."

The number needed for ratification: 67; the number the White House presumably has: 66. So where do we go from here? I would not yet count the White House down and out on this. A plugged-in Republican tells me the administration "can promise the moon and the stars to whoever flips first." But if they haven't pulled out all the stops now, he observes, the White House may in fact have come up short.

A Republican adviser (whose boss is not one of the eight) tells me that it is "hard to give it Last Rites just yet. But it would sure be a helluva lot easier for Sen. Reid to just declare that we'll take it up at a date certain in January of February." But then, the White House will have far fewer solid Democratic votes.

The bottom line: START is on life support, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's decision to plunk down a monstrous omnibus spending bill is certainly not going to help move the calendar along.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 15, 2010; 4:20 PM ET
Categories:  Senate GOP, foreign policy  
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What exactly would define verifiable enough to Sen Bond is probably nothing. After all what's reducing the # of thermonuclear weapons in the world relative to being able to pretend your stronger on defense then your domestic political opponents. I mean the odds of one of these being used is negligible next to the immediete political profit from looking stronger then your domestic opponents. Right?

Posted by: kchses1 | December 15, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I think they approved cloture so the requisite debate will ensue and then vote against it. This is to eat up the Senate clock, while negotiating who knows what behind the scenes. By their own letter (which, Collins violated on DADT) they shouldn't of voted for cloture, so I guess that's now null and void. Heckuva job Mike McConnell!

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | December 15, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of whether the treaty is ratified, both the US and Russia will still have enough toys left to obliterate humanity.

On the flip side if one takes the view that every little bit helps, then voting the treaty down, however flawed, would be an error in judgment.

Posted by: MsJS | December 15, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

The swine running the mafia state of Russia murder, beat & imprison all dissenters and truth tellers, and our very own nabob liberals insist we respectfully sign rubbish treaties with them.

Don't they have better things to do, like spending more time demonizing their opposition?

Posted by: ZoltanNewberry | December 15, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing you're right and START is probably dead, not that it matters anyway.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 15, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Zoltan newberry wrote:

" . . . and our very own nabob liberals insist we respectfully sign rubbish treaties with them.

Don't they have better things to do, like spending more time demonizing their opposition?"

Well, for starters liberals could invite the Russian premier out to visit their ranch like Bush did.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 15, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

This link lists current military and former international/national security policy officials from both sides of the political spectrum who support START ratification:

Ratification appears to be overwhelmingly supported by the military and national security establishment.

However, Ms. Rubin isn’t telling us about their expert opinions, is she?

Posted by: MsJS | December 15, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

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