Will GOP Senators Block the Russia Nuke Deal?
After months of negotiations, the U.S. and Russia have agreed on a wide-ranging series of mutual reductions in their massive nuclear arsenals. Arms control advocates are over the moon, as they contend that a deal to reduce the two major nuclear powers’ stockpiles will reinvigorate the rules of the arms-control world, leading to stiffer penalties for violators. The Washington Post reports details of the deal:
Each side will reduce its most dangerous nuclear weapons — those deployed for long-range missions — from a ceiling of 2,200 to between 1,500 and 1,675. And the two militaries will make relatively small cuts in the number of jets and land- or submarine-based missiles that carry nuclear warheads and bombs.
That’s the substance of the deal known as New START. But it requires Senate ratification, which in turn requires a grueling 67 Senate votes. So the political calculation is roughly this: having lost on health care, will Senate Republicans really give the Obama administration another victory on, of all things, nuclear arms control, a principle they largely don’t accept? In an election year?
Josh Rogin recently reported that Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the Republican dean of arms control, said he was “hopeful that it will be signed and that there will be time assigned on the floor for debate and a vote this year.” But Lugar’s Foreign Relations Committee counterpart, chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.), told Rogin he has “no idea” if the votes are there. Presuming partisan polarization, Lugar is either the 59th or the 60th vote, depending on Joe Lieberman’s (I-Conn.) mood. Who are the other seven or eight?