Some Republican Leaders Opposing New START
If you’ve only been watching the cable news shows, you may be surprised to learn the New START Treaty is problematic from the standpoint of America’s security. Most commentary focuses on either presidential politics or the need to play nice with our Russian friends. And, in the rare moment anyone focuses beyond the those issues, it usually has to deal with money for nuclear weapon maintenance, which is an appropriations exercises wholly unrelated to the treaty.
Fortunately, some Republicans leaders are talking about the issues. Earlier this week, three Senators in Republican leadership came out swinging. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) laid out a litany of concerns, concluding, “New START offers us nothing in return.” Senator Jon Thune (R-SD) called the treaty “deeply flawed.” Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) dismissed former Secretary Colin Powell’s endorsement, saying it would have no impact on his vote.
(To point out the obvious, Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have remained silent or implied their support.)
A non-legislative leader is stepping up as well. Mitt Romney, who endured a firestorm of personal and ad hominem attacks with his early criticisms of New START, hit the pages of the Boston Globe to outline seven serious concerns with the treaty. His leadership has been critical in bringing attention to this vital national security issue.
Romney sees the administration’s negotiating tactics as “more trust and less verify.” That, of course, is difficult considering the administration’s breach of trust on missile defense and refusal to share the negotiating records.
If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) decides to proceed to this treaty, which he can do at any time, he must understand there will be a long, vigorous debate over the substance of the treaty. Twenty-two Republican Senators told Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that they plan to offer extensive amendments to the treaty text and the resolution of ratification.
Senators McConnell and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) should embrace the diligence of their colleagues, and if the treaty comes to the floor, they should fight to fix it and if that fails, they should ensure the treaty fails.