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.
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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.