Ten Republican Senators have endorsed the START Treaty and it will pass today. This morning Lamar Alexander (TN) and Johnny Isakson (GA) both came out for START. The President wrote to Alexander last night promising to modernize U.S. nuclear weapons. Right now Senators Barrasso, Kyl, DeMint, Sessions, Graham, Thune, Hatch and Risch are holding a press conference against the Treaty, but it no longer matters. The administration clearly has enough votes for passage.
New START permits fewer on-site inspections than the agreement it replaces, but numerous GOP Senators supported it anyway. The GOP Senators will vote for cloture permitting the final vote. They will not wait to see minutes of the negotiations regarding missile defense. Several of the lawmakers are today sharing letters from the President committing the administration to all four phases of a missile defense system, and providing $85 billion for nuclear modernization.
However, the Russians are saying their understanding is that START precludes the United States from missile defense. Many believe it would have been better for the Senators to ask for a letter from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rather than President Obama. This issue is addressed in Article V, Section 3 of the treaty which states:
Each Party shall not use ICBM launchers, and SLBM launchers for placement of missile defense interceptors therein. Each party shall not covert, and shall not use launchers of missle defense interceptors for placement of icbms and slbms therein. This provision shall not apply to ICBM launchers that were converted prior to signature of this treaty for placement of missile defense interceptors therein.
Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) says the conservative critics are wrong and this section does not stop a new missile defense system in Europe. He says it just stops using old ICBM, and old SLBM missiles as interceptors, and calling it missile defense. START had the backing of all of the former GOP Secretaries of State as well as former President George H.W. Bush. The Senators said they wanted to act because the old treaty expired, and they would not wait for the addition of 10 new GOP Senators.
We have been down this road before.
Last March a press conference was held by 12 pro-life Democrats to announce they would be voting for ObamaCare. They had met with the President who agreed to issue an executive order stopping taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions.
The GOP said this was a positive step and the text of Obama’s executive order should be contained in the bill’s statutory language. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused and said there would be no votes on any side deals. The pro-life Democrats then provided the winning margin for ObamaCare. On final passage, 34 Democrats voted with the GOP but it was not enough.
ObamaCare passed 219 to 212, the exact same margin as the cap and trade national energy tax. The President then spoke to Stupak and thanked him “for answering the call of history.” Obama kept his promise and immediately signed the executive order. We then learned why the Speaker refused to allow a side vote. The Democrats told us an executive order is not valid if it conflicts with a statue. Of course they knew that all along.
Their trick worked but their constituents were not fooled. The new Congress will not include 7 of the 12 members of the Stupak Bloc: Reps. Bart Stupak (D-MI), Alan Mollohan (D-WV), Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), Steve Dreihaus (D-OH), Brad Ellsworth (D-IN), Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and Charlie Wilson (D-OH).