Some Early, Positive Signs on New START Ratification
It’s not a whip count or anything like that, but as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton prepares to push for Senate ratification of the New START nuclear arms-reduction treaty with Russia in GOP leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) backyard, some early signals are looking positive for the Obama administration as it gears up for the difficult legislative push.
For one thing, most GOP senators appear to be holding their fire, at least until they get the text of the treaty after the spring recess ends. Skepticism has yet to cross over into out-and-out rejection. An informed source tells me the nuclear watchers in the caucus are more concerned about what next week’s Nuclear Posture Review from the administration will say about the future of nuke policy than New START. That’s admittedly relative and preliminary, but it’s something.
What’s more, Joel Rubin of the progressive National Security Network has been talking to Hill staffers about New START and he detects the same sanguine reception from Republicans. “I’ve come away with a strong impression that there’s broad bipartisan support for the treaty (or at least the concept of it, since it’s not officially up there yet),” Rubin emailed, “so while no one’s come out officially with a yea/nay (as they couldn’t have at this point), there’s a clear desire to get this through (maybe not by [Sen. Jon] Kyl, but even he hasn’t said yet that he’d vote against it).” His prediction? Half the Foreign Relations Committee Republicans — led by support Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) — vote the treaty out of committee.