Hot on HuffPost:

See More Stories

START: Passage Virtually Assured as 11 Republicans Split Ranks

4 years ago
  0 Comments Say Something  »
Text Size
Republicans in the Senate broke away from their party's leadership Wednesday to help Democrats advance the Strategic Nuclear Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Eleven Republicans joined 56 Democrats to end debate on the bill and move it toward a final vote on ratification, likely on Wednesday.

The Republicans voting yes were Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Robert Bennett (Utah), Scott Brown (Mass.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Me.), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Richard Lugar (Ind.), Lisa Murkowski (Ak.), Olympia Snowe (Me.), and George Voinovich (Ohio).

The vote, which was 67 to 28, was major break in party unity for the GOP, which has successfully blocked several bills before the November elections and the DREAM Act and Omnibus Appropriations bill in the lame-duck session of Congress.

The treaty itself, known as "New START," would require Russia and the United States to agree to reduce their nuclear warheads by half, to reduce the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles and missile launchers, and to submit to on-site inspections by the other country's weapons experts. A controversial preamble also states that current missile defense systems would not undermine the treaty, a clause that Republicans contend was written by the Russians to lay the groundwork to object to future American missile defense systems.

The issue has become an increasingly contentious one, as Democrats have pushed Republicans to approve the treaty without significant changes, while many Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have accused the Obama administration of jamming the treaty toward passage without giving the Senate enough time to fully consider it.

But on Tuesday, two Republicans -- Sens. Corker and Alexander-- virtually assured its ratification when they announced that they would vote in favor of it, becoming the ninth and tenth Republican votes for the treaty. While Democrats needed only four Republicans on Tuesday's cloture vote, they will need nine Republicans Wednesday to ratify the treaty.

In announcing his support for the agreement Tuesday, Alexander said the treaty would give the United States enough leeway to blow other countries "to kingdom come."

"In short, I'm convinced that Americans are safer and more secure with the New START treaty than without it," he said.

As the Republican coalition fell apart Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham appealed to his colleagues to hold firm against the administration.

"I'm baffled by the idea, at least on our side, that we can't wait five weeks, start the debate next year with a date certain," Graham said. "You have 10 more Republicans coming that could help us negotiate a better deal for the United States."

Other Republicans dug in along with Graham.

"The Senate is not a rubber stamp, not for the administration, not for Russia, and as one senator, I am not ready to stamp this treaty," said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, remained dead-set against the treaty, even though the White House had added billions of dollars in additional funding to answer his concerns about ensuring the modernization of American weapons stockpiles.

"The administration did not negotiate a good treaty," Kyl said just before the vote. "They went into the negotiations, it seems to me, with the attitude with the Russians just like the guy that goes into the car dealership and says, 'I'm not leaving here until I buy a car.'"

Sen. John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, lashed out at GOP leaders Monday for what he saw as false arguments.

Kerry said consideration of the treaty was delayed 13 times at the request of Republicans to study it further. When Kyl asked for financing for modernization of American weapons, Kerry said Democrats provided the extra money, and when Kyl wanted more information, Democrats sent a staffer to Arizona to brief him.

"Now fully accommodated, with their requests entirely met, they come back and say it's being rushed," Kerry said.
"Is there no shame? Ever?"

Our New Approach to Comments

In an effort to encourage the same level of civil dialogue among Politics Daily’s readers that we expect of our writers – a “civilogue,” to use the term coined by PD’s Jeffrey Weiss – we are requiring commenters to use their AOL or AIM screen names to submit a comment, and we are reading all comments before publishing them. Personal attacks (on writers, other readers, Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, or anyone at all) and comments that are not productive additions to the conversation will not be published, period, to make room for a discussion among those with ideas to kick around. Please read our Help and Feedback section for more info.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum Comment Moderation Enabled. Your comment will appear after it is cleared by an editor.


Filter by:

EVERY former SECSTATE, Repubs and Dems, has endorsed this treaty. Former Republican SECDEFS support this treaty.The first Pres. Bush (who signed the Moscow Treaty, which is the precursor of THIS treaty) supports this treaty. Colin Powell supports this treaty. HENRY freaking KISSINGER supports this treaty. Almost every (respected and reputable) former Republican official supports passing this treaty.

Kissinger, George Schultz, James Baker, Lawrence Eagleburger and Colin Powell ALL wrote a column called Why New START deserves Republican Support, here:

The first START treaty was signed by GW Bush. THIS is NEW START -- a continuation of the old START, seeking the same goals.

The ONLY reason Senate Republicans are opposing this VITAL treaty is because the Repub Leader, Mitch McConnell, wants to stop EVERY bill or action proposed by the President or Democratic legislators to deny them any legislative "victories", regardless of whether it compromises the safety of the country.

December 22 2010 at 2:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

After reading all of the GOP banter regarding their 'Don't ask, don't tell' angst and how it spells doom for the United States, I can only imagine how much gloom, doom and portents of disaster will be spewed over Start. The 'I hope Obama fails' agenda has failed.....again. Republicans have made their intentions distinctly clear with their responses to these last two significant issues. This GOP is motivated first, foremost and always, not with 'Country First' but rather with politics first. Their shameful behavior has not gone unnoticed and retributions for their Anti-American comments will further establish their greatest Obama re-election in 2012. The GOP is anti-Latino, anti-gay, anti-unemployed, anti-public education and shamefully pro-banks, pro-mega corporations, pro-health care industry and it continues to look out for their precious 5% of wealthiest Americans above the needs of the American Middle Class. Republicans will do what they did best under W's reign of terror, serve themselves, take care of their own, continue with their divisive ways and forfeit their most positive attributes because of their inherent weakness of believing that they can do anything and get away with it. Republicans are themselves their own worst enemy. That's one thing that we can all count on entering into this New Year and the one thing that Obama will definitely use against them.

December 22 2010 at 1:18 PM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

The nuclear wild cards are North Korea and Iran. Are they included?...

December 22 2010 at 12:41 PM Report abuse -8 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Rob & Kathy's comment me


December 22 2010 at 1:07 PM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply
John Vilvens

To point out the truth will get you censored by this author. The preamble restrict missle defense. America if nuked by a rogue nation cannot return the same and can only attack with a conventional war. I would recommend reading this bill to people before decising if it is a good deal for american security. As all truthfull comments that disagree with this author this will never be posted.

December 22 2010 at 12:41 PM Report abuse -11 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

This treaty isn't worth the paper it's written on....

December 22 2010 at 12:28 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply

Much akin to the recent legislation on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Senators McCain and Graham are in dire need of reality checks. Both served at one time or another in the Armed Forces and both are keenly aware of the need to ratify the SALT. I can excuse Senator McConnell because he's in a category of his own. As one of the leaders of his party, the first order of business should be about jobs, and securing our nation and allies as well, and not attempting to ensure President Obama serves only "one" term. The senator isn't serving his constituents or the country, but instead his own personal agenda, which is sad.

December 22 2010 at 12:01 PM Report abuse +18 rate up rate down Reply

It's a great day for America !

December 22 2010 at 11:38 AM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply

Russia, our friends, the ones that just gave iran the fuel so their nuke plant could start up! Yes, our "friends"! And now, we just gave them the authority to tell the US when and when we can't use nukes or even defend ourselves against anyone launching a missle against us! Way to go Senators! But we all know that obama has done so much to ensure the US will be safe from terrorists! Remember our borders are more secure now then ever!

December 22 2010 at 11:13 AM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply

We reduce our arsenals while China ramps theirs up.... START is not SMART....
and we are suppose to believe Russia.... good grief!!!

December 22 2010 at 11:05 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply

The press has always quoted Lindsey Graham with his "reaching across" to the Democrats. And now....he is enraged with the Democrats over this and that. Funny that he is so upset just as the power is shifting back to the Republicans. Lindsey Graham and John McCain are not and have never been Republicans. Graham is against the START treaty? Please. His staff must have read about the redistricting coming and told him what it says. You want to see some transparently? You can look straight through Lindsey Graham.

December 22 2010 at 10:58 AM Report abuse +14 rate up rate down Reply

Follow Politics Daily

  • Comics
Featuring political comics by Robert and Donna TrussellMore>>
  • Woman UP Video
politics daily videos
Weekly Videos
Woman Up, Politics Daily's Online Sunday ShowMore»
politics daily videos
TV Appearances
Showcasing appearances by Politics Daily staff and contributors.More>>