Clear back in April of this year, President Obama signed a new version of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), as did Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. He now hopes it that it can be ratified by the US Senate before the end of the year. My only question is--what took so long? The answer? Grandstanding Republicans, it appears.
CNN reported in early April, 2010 that
The new...START [treaty] builds on a previous agreement that expired in December.The previous treaty, signed in 1991, has now been expired for one year. Here we are, just over eight months after Obama and Medvedev signed a new treaty, and the US Senate is just now taking it up for consideration? Why so slow?
The agreement cuts the number of nuclear weapons held by the United States and Russia by about a third.
"This day demonstrates the determination of the United States and Russia -- the two nations that hold over 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons -- to pursue responsible global leadership," Obama said after the signing.
Obama's Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs called the Republicans on the issue for grandstanding:
Republicans threatened to force the treaty, signed in April, to be read aloud in the Senate, which would have delayed consideration. The White House called the GOP out on the maneuver, with press secretary Robert Gibbs assailing it as a "new low in putting political stunts ahead of our national security."Senator Jim DeMint is at the forefront of the stalling tactics. Why can't he read the bill himself or have one of his staffers read it to him? Tellingly, The American Conservative has even taken to calling the Republican Senator from South Carolina Mr. Jim Delay. And with good reason, it seems. He's also getting help from his henchman, Republican John Kyl, from Arizona.
Earlier in the month, [DeMint] suggested that he might use delaying tactics to slow down and block the treaty during the lame-duck session, and he is going to do just that. DeMint has at least twenty-one colleagues on the Republican side that will probably join with him in these blocking maneuvers, and the more that the hard-line treaty opponents stall the easier it will be for the equivocating members of the leadership to repeat their claim that “there is not enough time.”Why? Because it would supposedly be a win for the Democrats at the expense of the Republicans. No wonder politics is such a hated sport. The American Conservative laments that
Kyl also reiterated this threat yesterday in very plain terms: “And if he [Reid] does bring it up, I will work very hard to achieve that result, namely that the treaty fails.”
consideration of the treaty has been delayed until now to satisfy the “concerns” of Senate Republicans. Almost all of the time since the treaty-signing has been wasted by the minority’s delaying tactics in the form of Kyl’s demands for ever more money. Having wasted all of that time and held up consideration of the treaty for the sake of these bogus “concerns,” the minority has continued to throw up as many obstacles as possible.
I heard someone on the Lars Larsen show tonight express how flabbergasted they were that, because no such treaty had ever been signed in a lame duck session of congress, that the Democrats shouldn't stoop so low as to expect this one to be considered now.
It should have been considered several months ago. It never needed to come to this. And that would be the fault of the Republicans. Let's get the treaty ratified.