Lame-Duck Senate Approves New START With Support of 13 Republicans

By Patrick Goodenough | December 22, 2010 | 8:05pm EST

Arriving on Capitol Hill ahead of the Senate vote on New START Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton keeps her fingers crossed. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(CNSNews.com) – Thirteen Senate Republicans joined Democrats Wednesday as the lame-duck U.S. Senate approved the New START arms-reduction treaty with Russia. The pact, a key foreign policy priority for President Obama, has generated significant debate in recent weeks.

Senior administration figures were present as the Senate voted 71-26 in favor of the treaty. Vice President Joe Biden presided over the roll-call vote and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also on hand.

Addressing a press conference later Wednesday, President Obama hailed what he described as a “strong, bipartisan vote.” Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and ranking Republican Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) also characterized the vote as a bipartisan achievement.

Although the vote tally reflected more GOP support than had been predicted – four votes more than the minimum needed for passage – the scale of bipartisanship was smaller than has been the case with previous arms-reduction pacts.

The START I Treaty – the pact that New START will replace – was approved by the Senate in October 1992 by a vote of 93-6; START II was endorsed for ratification in January 1996 by a vote of 87-4; The Strategic Offensive Reductions (SORT) Treaty was approved unanimously in March 2003.

The 13 Republicans who voted with the Democrats on Wednesday were Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Bob Bennett (Utah), Scott Brown (Mass.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Judd Gregg (N.H.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Mike Johanns (Neb.), Richard Lugar (Ind.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and George Voinovich (Ohio).

Three of them, Gregg, Bennett and Voinovich, are leaving the Senate.

Three other Republicans who will not return to the Senate next year – Sens. Christopher Bond (Mo.), Sam Brownback (Kans.) and Jim Bunning (Ky.) – did not vote on Wednesday.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) talk about the New START Treaty on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Signed by Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev in Prague last April, New START commits the U.S. and Russia to reduce deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550, within seven years, down from the current limit of 2,200.

Among other things, critics were concerned about verification procedures and the implications for future U.S. plans to deploy missile defenses, to protect itself and allies from missile attack from hostile states like Iran.

Many Republicans also argued that a treaty of such importance should not be rushed through in the waning days of Congress.

The Heritage Foundation, which advocated against ratification, noted that it was the first time the Senate had given its advice and consent to the ratification of a major treaty during a lame-duck session.

(Had the vote been delayed until the new Congress, the number of required Republican votes would have risen to 14 – one more than the number achieved on Wednesday.)

The White House and other treaty proponents insisted that New START would do nothing to constrain U.S. missile defense options, and argued that senators had plenty of time to examine the treaty over the months since it was signed.

The administration produced prominent supporters for the treaty including top military officers and Republican former secretaries of state.

CNSNews Reader,

The media are hard at work weaving a web of confusion, misinformation, and conspiracy surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

CNSNews covers the stories that the liberal media are afraid to touch. It drives the national debate through real, honest journalism—not by misrepresenting or ignoring the facts.

CNSNews has emerged as the conservative media’s lynchpin for original reporting, investigative reporting, and breaking news. We are part of the only organization purely dedicated to this critical mission and we need your help to fuel this fight.

Donate today to help CNSNews continue to report on topics that the liberal media refuse to touch. $25 a month goes a long way in the fight for a free and fair media.

And now, thanks to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, you can make up to a $300 gift to the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization of your choice and use it as a tax deduction on your 2020 taxes, even if you take the standard deduction on your returns.

— The CNSNews Team

DONATE

Connect

Sign up for our CNSNews Daily Newsletter to receive the latest news.