House Conservatives Send a Strong Message on New START

Earlier this week two conservative leaders in the House sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.  In the letter, they laid out their concerns with moving forward on New START ratification during lame duck.

The letter, authored by Congressman Tom Price (R-GA), chairman of the Republican Study Committee and Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), chairman of the RSC’s National Security Working Group, served to remind Senators that the House plays a key role in implementing treaties.

While much of the dialogue between the White House and key Senate Republicans has focused on nuclear modernization funding, Reps. Price and Franks point out that those funds “will have to be approved by the House.”  This calls into the question whether the administration has the ability to deliver on its promises when they do not exercise the power of the purse.

Unlike many of their Senate colleagues, Reps. Price and Franks focused on the real policy concerns with this treaty:

…many House Republicans believe this treaty may weaken the ability of the U.S. to defend itself against missile attacks. This is largely because the Administration has made indications to Russia that in the context of this treaty the U.S. will not pursue missile defense options that could affect the strategic balance between the two states.

Their concern has become all that more important following reports the administration worked on a secret side deal with Russia regarding missile defense.  Reps. Price and Franks point out:

The administration has also proven to show a lack of transparency during this process by refusing to provide senators with the full negotiating record or specific details of the Tauscher-Rybakov discussions.

New START should not come to the floor until the administration releases the negotiating records.  That is the only way Senators can know the administration did not broker more secret deals.  This administration promised transparency – now they need to deliver.

We commend Reps. Price and Franks for raising these issues.  It begs the question though, why have the Senators fallen asleep at the wheel?

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