Did the Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives sound the death knell for START? Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl said he would oppose a START vote, at least during the lame-duck session. From the Wall Street Journal:
“Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona said there wasn’t time to deal with his concerns over a treaty that would cut U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons deployments by about one third and restore weapons inspections that were halted nearly a year ago. Treaty ratification requires 67 votes in the Senate. Mr. Kyl’s decision likely pushes a vote to next year, when the Senate Democratic majority shrinks to 53 from 58.
“Mr. Kyl’s announcement took the White House by surprise. A White House official said that just last Friday, officials from the Defense Department, the National Nuclear Security Administration and the U.S. Strategic Command briefed the senator and offered an additional $4.1 billion over the next five years that he had demanded to modernize the remaining nuclear arsenal.”
The treaty would limit strategic warheads to 1,550 and launchers to 700 each. Republican senators have cited several concerns about START, including lack of verification and a link between missile defense and offense. These senators requested the treaty negotiating record, and the Obama administration has refused to turn it over. Republicans also suspect Russia and the U.S. entered into a secret agreement on missile defense, and the State Department has gone on record to deny it.
Earlier this week, we linked to the Heritage Foundation’s must-read START fact sheet. The treaty weakens our nation’s missile defense by reducing our stockpiles and imposing restrictions on our missile defense options. As the experts say, a lame-duck congressional session is not the time to ratify such a troubling treaty.