Tales from the Trail

Senate Republicans ask: What’s the hurry on the new START treaty?

When it comes to ratifying President Obama’s nuclear arms reduction treaty with the Russians, Senate Republicans say: don’t rush us.

Obama has said he would like to see the Senate ratify the new START treaty with Moscow this year. But he will need some Republican support to get the 67 votes required for ratification. And Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans don’t yet have the answers to their questions about the agreement and related concerns about how much money will be spent modernizing U.S. nuclear forces.

“The only way this treaty gets in trouble is if it’s rushed,” McConnell said in an interview with Reuters. “My advice to the president was, don’t try to jam it, answer all the requests, and let’s take our time and do it right,” he said.RUSSIA/

The new START treaty would cut the arsenals of deployed nuclear warheads in the United States and Russia by about 30 percent.

McConnell said he had not yet decided how he would vote on the treaty, but that he would be strongly influenced by whatever Senator Jon Kyl, the Republican whip, decides. Kyl is considered something of an expert on nuclear weapons.

The First Draft: As Congress returns, Obama leaves

After a week of holiday barbecue, hometown parades and constituent fence-mending, members of theUSA/ U.S. Congress begin to drift back to Washington on Monday for what promises to be its most severe test of the year — finding common ground on a mammoth overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system.

The Senate is back in session on Monday afternoon and the House of Representatives returns on Tuesday to begin work on melding two different Senate bills and three House versions into legislation that can earn initial approval from each chamber before lawmakers adjourn for the month of August.

There are plenty of obstacles for the proposals, President Barack Obama’s top legislative priority this year, from trimming the potential $1 trillion cost to determining how to pay and whether to include a government-run public insurance option for approximately 46 million uninsured Americans.