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Senate Rejects McCain’s New START Amendment

Senate Rejects McCain’s New START Amendment

Watching the lame-duck Senate debate the New START treaty has been maddening.  For the better part of four days, Senate Republicans have been whining about process and time constraints, which, as previously noted, were of the GOP’s own making.

The lack of time, Republicans now complain, doesn’t allow for the proper consideration of amendments to the treaty.  Yet, they wait until day three of debate to offer their first amendment — a fundamentally unserious amendment introduced by Sen. John McCain, whose performance throughout the START debate should serve as a reminder to American voters that the Senator from Arizona would have made a disastrous president.

McCain’s complaint was that language contained within the treaty’s preamble could potentially be exploited by the Russians to limit proposed U.S. missile defense programs.  Political Correction published a detailed take down of McCain’s assessment, Dec. 17, but Washington Monthly blogger Steve Benen summed the matter well:

McCain has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. This isn’t a subjective matter, where reasonable people can come to different conclusions shaped by perspective and opinion; McCain is just completely wrong — the preamble is non-binding, and it simply describes the existing reality. McCain said the language will hinder missile defense efforts going forward, but the U.S. general in charge of missile defense says that’s backwards.

Reality notwithstanding, a growing number of Republicans rallied behind McCain’s recommended changes to the preamble, despite the fact that the language is non-binding, and despite knowing that approving the amendment would necessarily kill the treaty.

While the Senate has an obligation to advise and consent on New START, demands to change the text of the agreement — as was the case with McCain’s amendment — would effectively prohibit its ratification.  It’s highly unlikely the Russians would renegotiate the agreement.  Why would they bother with such a toxic political mess, one that’s poised to get worse with 10 additional Republicans joining the dysfunctional Senate in the next session?

It was extremely fortunate, then, that McCain’s demand for the treaty’s preamble to be changed failed.  In the afterglow of the successful repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and following their receipt of a letter from president Obama seeking to allay Republicans’ concerns, the Senate voted down the amendment, 59-37.

As the president, once again, urged during his Dec. 18 weekly address, the Senate is expected to press on with debate and vote on New START before the end of the lame-duck session.  It remains uncertain if the 2/3 majority (67 votes) required for ratification are secured.  By Benen’s count, “It’s going to be tight…”

At this point, the head-count is looking shaky. To ratify, nine Senate Republicans would have to do the right thing, but at this point, I only see seven firm “yes” votes — Bennett (Utah), Brown (Mass.), Collins (Maine), Lugar (R-Ind.), Murkowski (R-Alaska), Snowe (Maine), and Voinovich (Ohio).

 And as of Sunday, those listed by Benen and any other Republican Senator choosing to “do the right thing” will have to vote against the GOP leadership’s freshly stated position against ratification.  Stay tuned.

Take Action–> Urge Senators to Support Nuclear Arms Reduction

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Image via flickr.com user Soggydan

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134 comments

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5:53PM PST on Dec 23, 2010

Just too old now!

4:04AM PST on Dec 22, 2010

I think the people of Arizona vote for him out of pity....

9:18PM PST on Dec 21, 2010

When is McCain going to give it up and just go home and lick his wounds. His days as a leader are over, he just won't face the fact.

3:21PM PST on Dec 21, 2010

McCain needs to be removed from office. The real question is: Are the people of Arizona up to it?"

2:57PM PST on Dec 21, 2010

John McCain has become an angry OLD man. He used to get 'some' support from me; now, he gets none. He can't believe that an _upstart_, like Barack Obama defeated him in the election.

His other problem, is with the conservative right. The party won't allow him to forget that he brought Sarah Palin into the limelight and now, they are stuck with her. So, his punishment is, he must follow the party line.

Apparently, he doesn't realize what a fool he is making of himself, with his wishy-washy agenda. His followers don't know what to expect next.

He's in deep doo-doo, with no way out.

1:36PM PST on Dec 21, 2010

The media debate is in full swing about the President’s huge lame duck session, and what it will mean for his poll numbers. Now as we sit on the precipice of the START treaty ratification, I felt it was important to glance back in the history of this President and see why exactly we are here today. A kind of struggle through the white noise if you will:

http://www.doubledutchpolitics.com/2010/12/for-obama-new-strategic-arms-reduction-treaty-is-start-of-legacy/

12:41PM PST on Dec 21, 2010

Folks, no matter how much you may like some of his positions, Ron Paul is cookoobananas.

11:16AM PST on Dec 21, 2010

Thank God the arrogant John McCain did not become president. Wishy-washy on important issues, and being totally undependable, are parts of his changing personality. Neither party can depend on him. If people researched his service to his country, they would find that after 2 or 3 flying missions, he was captured, held prisoner and tortured. That's his claim to fame. He is opinionated and only cares about his own opinion.

Some people have expressed their desire for RON Paul to become president. I hope they are really meaning RON not RAN Paul. Ran Paul is a self-serving idiot, trying to get people to think he knows what the Constitution is all about.

11:05AM PST on Dec 21, 2010

John is so like Sarah, they will do and say anything to b e noticed even when it hurts the country, He will never get over he lost the election so will do everything he can to make our President fail. It's not working John. Retire.

10:02AM PST on Dec 21, 2010

McCain is showing his ignorance again.

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