Senate kicks off debate over US-Russia arms treaty
Wednesday, December 15, 2021 9:41 PM

Related Stories



(Source: Associated Press/AP Online)WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats secured the backing of a significant number of Republicans in a crucial test vote Wednesday on a new U.S.-Russia arms control treaty - President Barack Obama's top foreign policy priority.

The 66-32 vote to take up the treaty bolstered White House and senior Democrats' claims that they will have the two-thirds majority needed to ratify it before Congress adjourns for the holiday, even though a majority of Republicans prefer waiting until next year.

Nine Republicans, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Obama's 2008 presidential rival and a top lawmaker on national security issues, supported moving ahead on the treaty now.

Obama has said he is prepared to delay a planned holiday vacation until the treaty is completed, elevating the measure to year-end, must-do status along with the tax deal he cut with Republicans. Democrats are determined to push the treaty through the Senate in hopes of giving Obama a foreign policy victory before the GOP grabs more power next year.

"We believe we should stay here as long as it takes to get this treaty ratified, and we are prepared to do so," said Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass.

Still, several Republicans, led by Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., objected to considering the treaty in the waning days of Congress' lame-duck session, insisting the Senate should delay action until it has more time. Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said they could support the treaty but not under the current timetable. Alexander told reporters it was "reckless."

Speaking for the treaty before Democrats took their turn, Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana said the treaty "will enable American teams to return to Russia to collect data on the Russian arsenal and verify Russian compliance. These inspections greatly reduce the possibility that we will be surprised by Russian nuclear deployments or advancements."

U.S. weapons inspections ended a year ago with the expiration of the 1991 arms control treaty.

Angry accusations marked the hours before the vote as Republicans threatened to force the treaty, signed in April, to be read aloud in the Senate, which would have delayed consideration. The White House called the GOP out on the maneuver, with press secretary Robert Gibbs assailing it as a "new low in putting political stunts ahead of our national security."

Gibbs singled out Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., for possible delaying tactics.

The heated rhetoric quickly gave way to a more sober analysis. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said of the talk about reading the treaty, "Our view is that is not essential."

Several Republicans had argued that the limited time available in the lame-duck session made it difficult to give the treaty the consideration it deserved. Twenty-two Republican senators signed a letter Dec. 2 calling for debate on the treaty to be delayed until next year.

Proponents of the treaty cite the renewed weapons inspections and say it would keep the two biggest nuclear powers on the path to reducing their arsenals. Opponents have asserted it would limit U.S. missile defense options and argued that it has insufficient procedures to verify Russia's adherence to the treaty.

In an argument linked to national security, White House officials have contended that the U.S. must show credibility in its improved relations with Russia. Its help with supplies for the war in Afghanistan and its ability to help pressure Iran over its nuclear ambitions have proven important to U.S. security, officials say.

The treaty has pitted moderate Republicans against hard-line conservatives, with potential 2012 challengers to Obama making opposition a requirement for anyone weighing a bid for the GOP presidential nomination. Lining up in opposition are Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Sen. John Thune of South Dakota.

Backing the treaty are former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and several secretaries of state and defense from Republican and Democratic administrations, including Condoleezza Rice.

Supporters are pushing for ratification in this legislative session because prospects for passage will dim when the Democrats' majority shrinks by five senators in January. The Constitution requires approval by two-thirds of the Senate to ratify a treaty.

Obama signed the treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in April. It would allow each country 1,550 strategic warheads, down from the current ceiling of 2,200.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

 

Sponsors

Symbol :

Advertisement

Market news:

  • Almost no oil recovered from sand berms Dec 17, 2021 12:03 AM

    • NEW ORLEANS - The big set of sand barriers erected by Louisiana's governor to protect the coastline at the height of the Gulf oil spill was criticized by a presidential commission Thursday as a colossal, $200 million waste of BP's money so far.
    • Precious little oil ever washed up on the berms, according to the commission - a finding corroborated by a log of oil sightings and other government documents obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.
    • During the crisis, Jindal boasted that the sand walls were stopping oil from coming ashore, and the idea proved popular in Louisiana.
      • Final hurdle for tax bill: Is the end in sight? Dec 16, 2021 11:56 PM

        • WASHINGTON - Acting with uncommon speed, Congress moved toward final passage Thursday night of sweeping, bipartisan legislation to avoid a Jan. 1 spike in income taxes for millions and renew jobless benefits for victims of the worst recession in 80 years.
        • The legislation was the result of a reach across party lines by President Barack Obama and top Republicans in Congress - stubborn adversaries during two years of political combat that ended when the GOP emerged the undisputed winner in midterm elections on Nov. 2.
        • Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., called it "a bipartisan moment of clarity" as the House moved toward an expected late night vote.
          • VJax catches 3 TD passes from Rivers to lead Bolts Dec 16, 2021 11:38 PM

            • SAN DIEGO - Vincent Jackson had a career-high three touchdown catches, Philip Rivers surpassed 4,000 yards passing for the third straight season and the San Diego Chargers beat Alex Smith and the San Francisco 49ers 34-7 on Thursday night to stay alive in the AFC West race.
            • The Chargers (8-6) pulled within a half-game of division leader Kansas City (8-5), which lost 31-0 at San Diego on Sunday.
            • Jackson missed the first 10 games due to a bitter contract dispute.
              • Senate Dem leader drops nearly $1.3T spending bill Dec 16, 2021 11:32 PM

                • WASHINGTON - Democrats controlling the Senate abandoned on Thursday a huge catchall spending measure combining nearly $1.3 trillion worth of unfinished budget work, including $158 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
                • Facing a midnight Saturday deadline when a stopgap funding measure expires, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would work with Republican leader Mitch McConnell to produce a bill to keep the federal government running into early next year.
                • Reid, D-Nev., gave up on the bill after several Republicans who had been thinking of voting for it pulled back their support.
                  • Judge grants bail to WikiLeaks' Julian Assange Dec 16, 2021 11:14 PM

                    • LONDON - A U.K. judge has rejected an appeal and granted bail to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who will be freed from a British jail.
                    • High Court justice Duncan Ouseley rejected prosecutors' argument that Assange should stay in prison and granted him conditional bail.
                    • THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE.

                      More news


Advertisement

    Recent Estimates

AnalystFirm NameSymbolEPS Estimate
XXXXXXXXXX RIMM$1.64
XXXXXXXXXX CRM$0.19
GEOXXXXX PAY$0.30
mrbilltraderXXXXX POT$1.59
XXXXXXXXXX OVTI$0.43
sam farahanXXXXX TECD$0.95
XXXXXXXXXX GSS$0.05
XXXXXXXXXX ABB$0.31
adfgafg ERTS$0.48
XXXXXXXXXX SD$0.03