Washington Extra – START not yet finished
So far, the U.S. Senate has spent six days debating New START — the strategic nuclear arms limitation treaty with Russia. Not so long, you say? Democrats are rushing it through? Well consider this, Congress has already spent longer on this agreement than it did on START I almost two decades ago — and the original is a much more complex treaty.
It is not just President Barack Obama and the Democrats who support this treaty. Former President George H.W. Bush, a Republican, supports it. So does Republican Condoleezza Rice and every other former secretary of state who is still alive. And the military? Well those folks really support it, just ask the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the uniformed officers in charge of nuclear security.
So what’s the problem?
“The American people don’t want us to squeeze our most important work into the final days of a session,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell argued. Republicans, it seems, think Obama and the Democrats just want to notch one last victory before Republicans take the House in January.
Russia’s foreign minister warned U.S. senators not to make changes to the treaty during debate because it might not just delay the deal, it could kill it altogether. Not exactly the Christmas present Obama was hoping for in 2010.
Here are our top stories from Washington today…
Arms treaty debate increasingly testy in Senate
Debate in the Senate over President Obama’s strategic nuclear arms treaty with Russia grew increasingly testy, but the White House expressed confidence lawmakers would approve the accord before their break. Republican senators pushed for a series of amendments in an effort to kill the New START treaty by forcing a renegotiation. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned that any amendment would be a deal-breaker.
For more of this story by David Alexander, read here.
For a Q+A by David Alexander on START’s ‘moment of truth’, click here.
Obama working hard on START to secure year-end win
Eager to notch another year-end political victory, President Obama has worked to ease Republican doubts over a nuclear arms treaty with Russia. Success would cap a productive period in the closing weeks of this Congress.
For more of this story by Alister Bull and Steve Holland, read here.
Wall Street to regulators: No need to rush
As regulators race to write rules that will put Wall Street reform legislation into action, industry groups are trying to apply the brakes. The new law requires regulators to potentially write hundreds of rules, many under a tight time-frame. But in cases where the Dodd-Frank law leaves a bit of wiggle room on deadlines, industry groups are urging regulators to take a deep breath and adopt a go-slow approach.
For more of this analysis by Ann Saphir and Dave Clarke, read here.
Hedge funds may skirt direct Fed scrutiny -source
The Federal Reserve does not believe any one hedge fund can topple the financial system and therefore the private pools of capital may escape direct supervision by the central bank, an industry source familiar with the Fed’s position said.
For more of this story by Rachelle Younglai and Dave Clarke, read here.
For some professors, disclosure is academic
A growing number of critics are arguing that disclosing industry relationships should be mandatory for academics who appear before congressional policy hearings as independent experts. After all, these critics say, congressional testimony is a key step in the legislative process and can have enormous sway on policy. “If someone is presented as a disinterested expert, but they actually have a financial relationship with someone with an interest in what they are talking about, that leaves the members of the public in the dark and sometimes members of the committee as well,” said Bill Allison of the Sunlight Foundation.
For more of this special report by Emily Flitter, Kristina Cooke and Pedro da Costa, read here.
In Afghan war, US finds fighting may be easy part
While the White House review of the Afghan war last week reported a surge in troops has pushed Taliban militants out of some key areas, it also underscored that fighting may be the easy part in Afghanistan. The review, despite a cautiously optimistic tone, recognized that much remains to be done to improve Afghan governance and persuade Pakistan to end militant safe-havens as President Obama aims to start bringing troops home next year.
For more of this analysis by Missy Ryan, read here.
Automakers sue EPA over higher ethanol blends
Automakers and engine makers sued the EPA on Monday for allowing higher blends of ethanol for newer cars, which they think could confuse consumers at fuel pumps and lead to damage of engines in older vehicles.
For more of this story by Timothy Gardner, read here.
What we are blogging…
Senator Coburn’s waste line — $11.5 billion in 2010 spending
Republican Senator Tom Coburn has released his “Wastebook 2010″ report, a list of government spending that adds up to over $11.5 billion that he considers wasteful. It includes burping cows, Vidalia onions, a 2,500-year-old mummy, and finding love on the Internet. “Even those lucky enough to have jobs have had to tighten their belts. Yet, Congress continues to find new and extravagant ways to waste tax dollars,” Coburn said in a statement.
For Tabassum Zakaria’s full post, read here.
For more stories from our Washington correspondents visit www.reuters.com and stay informed.
Photo Credits: REUTERS//Kevin Lamarque (McConnell (L) makes his way into the Old Senate Chamber for a closed session about the new START treaty); REUTERS/Jason Reed (Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev exchange documents after signing START II in April.