On Thursday, September 16th the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 14-4 to support the New START Treaty. This is just the beginning of the struggle to make the treaty a reality and receive the advantages of mutual weapons verification and stable security with Russia. The vote was made possible by the substitute version of the New START treaty penned by Richard Lugar rather than the original Kerry version. The language in this new version is designed to please conservatives on issues like the renewal of our nuclear weapons complexes, and on missile defense.
But in the end the best argument was the danger of not having any verification agreement that provides “eyes” for the U.S. to have insight into Russian nuclear development. It probably helped to have a wide range of former Republican national security leaders supporting the treaty.
In the end Republicans Richard Lugar (IN), Bob Corker (TN), and Johnny Isakson (GA) joined the 11 Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to vote for a New START. While some see this as showing strong bipartisan support for the treaty, there is still a long way to go as the Senate floor vote requires a super majority of 67 under the Constitution.
Immediate speculation predicts that we will see a vote on the floor either before the election or during a “lame duck” session. Most experts foresee a post-election vote but this remains unclear. A vote without delay would be in the US interest in terms of weapons verification. However, many right-wing Republicans are more interested in scoring political points than in shoring up American security.
We need to tell our Senators that New START increases U.S. national security by reducing the number of deployed nuclear weapons in U.S. and Russian arsenals. It also restores and strengthens the U.S. ability to monitor and verify Russia’s still enormous nuclear arsenal. Also read the New York Times editorial on New START on September 15th entitled “Ratify the New Start Treaty.”
In the floor vote we need 67 votes and you can make a difference! Call your Senator in Washington, D.C. through the Senate switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for early action and a favorable vote on the New START treaty.
For our readers information the votes were as follows:
|Senators Voted In Favor||Senators Voted Against|
|John Kerry (D-MA)||James Inhofe (R-OK)|
|Christopher Dodd (D-CN)||James Risch (R-ID)|
|Russell Feingold (D-WI)||Roger Wicker (R-MS)|
|Barbara Boxer (D-CA)||John Barrass (R-WY)|
|Robert Menendez (D-NJ)|
|Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)|
|Robert Casey (D-PA)||Absent:|
|Jim Webb (D-VA)||Jim DeMint (R-SC)|
|Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)|
|Edward Kaufman (D-DE)|
|Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY)|
|Richard Lugar (R-IN)|
|Bob Corker (R-TN)|
|Johnny Isakson (R-GA)|