Archive for November 19, 2010
Iowa is Watching Arizona Senator Jon Kyl
by Paul Deaton
of the negotiations between the administration and Senator Kyl make
proponents of nuclear abolition ill. At the same time, we won't give up
on the modest step towards nuclear disarmament New START represents.“
After months of suspense about whether the Republican Senators would allow debate on the New START Treaty between the Russian Federation and the United States, Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) made a statement on Tuesday afternoon on whether the minority would consent to debate the treaty:
Kyl's statement did not provide the closure many of us had hoped for.
Senator John Kerry (D-MA) was quick to release a statement after Kyl, saying, “I talked with Senator Kyl today and I do not believe the door is closed to considering New START during the lame duck session.” In rapid succession, statements supporting ratification during the 111th congress were issued by Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Lugar. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen joined in with support for the treaty with posts on twitter.
While the treaty would serve to reset our relationship with Russia and set new limits for the number of nuclear weapons and delivery systems, re-establishing on the ground verification inspections that ceased at the end of the first START Treaty, Senator Kyl would not say yes to debate by the full Senate. There are really no unresolved issues, except whether the Republicans will allow debate. As I wrote in a November 10th letter to the editor of the Des Moines Register,
Since it was signed in April, a vast array of experts, Republicans and Democrats alike, have lined up in favor of the treaty. They include four former secretaries of state, four former secretaries of defense, three former national security advisers, seven former Strategic Command chiefs and all three leaders of the nation's nuclear labs. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has noted that New START has 'the unanimous support of America's military leadership.'
Treaties require careful consideration. The Senate held 21 hearings and briefings on the treaty, and the White House formally answered more than 900 questions from senators. In September, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recommended ratification with a bipartisan 14-4 vote.
Let's put politics aside and national security first by ratifying the treaty this year.“
So what is Senator Kyl's problem and why is he blocking debate by his equivocation? He is getting hammered from the right.
For example, on Monday, Russ Vought, Political Director of Heritage Action for America, launched a nation-wide action alert to call Senator Kyl's office and urge him to reject the administration's offer of “an additional $4 billion for modernizing America’s nuclear arsenal in exchange for the Senate’s confirmation of New START.” Heritage action is an advocacy arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation which opposes the New START Treaty because of policy concerns. The Heritage Foundation has buckets of money and freedom to advocate for their position. It is not surprising that Senator Kyl's statement reflects equivocation.
Word of the negotiations between the administration and Senator Kyl make proponents of nuclear abolition ill. At the same time, we won't give up on the modest step towards nuclear disarmament New START represents. The decision whether to debate the treaty is not Senator Kyl's alone, but in the Senate, one Senator can stop debate by withholding consent. Even if Senator Kyl enables debate in the lame duck session, there are some wild cards in the form of senators who oppose ratification that could stop it.
Going into the final stretch towards ratification of New START, we expect advocacy from all sides to intensify. Now it the time to call or write Iowa's senators and urge them to vote for ratification of New START.
~Paul Deaton is a
native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend editor of
Blog for Iowa. E-mail