Today the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the New START Treaty resolution of ratification by a vote of 14 – 4.
The results indicate bi-partisan support for the treaty, with three Republicans voting for the Treaty: Richard Lugar (R-IN), Bob Corker (R-TN) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA). Three Republicans voted for the treaty and four against, with one Senator missing the vote.
To get there, the Senate considered a number of declarations, understandings and conditions during a session broken up by the need to head to the Senate floor for votes and negotiations over one tricky amendment.
After supportive statements by Chairman Kerry and ranking member Lugar, the mark-up session began well when Senator Isakson expressed concern over missile defense, nuclear modernization and verification, but said he would vote for the treaty.
Corker, who also voted for the treaty, said that while he would vote “aye,” there was a need to formalize the modernization plan before a floor vote. He noted a letter from Vice President Biden yesterday on the subject.
Sen. James Risch (R-ID) tossed a temporary road-block into the proceedings by bringing up a new secret Intelligence Community report sent to the Senate in the last 24 – 48 hours that he said included troubling information. Kerry replied that the information in no way altered judgment on the New START treaty. Because it was classified, it was impossible to determine the relevance or importance of the report.
Provisions offered by Senators:
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) offered a provision to strike language in the preamble to the treaty on missile defense, but lost 6 – 12 (vote totalsare accurate or close to accurate). Sen. Kerry pointed out that the provision would require the renegotiation of the treaty and that the parliamentarian has pointed out that the Senate cannot change the preamble to a treaty.
Sen. Risch said he had successfully negotiated a compromise on a provision endorsing modernization of nuclear delivery vehicles that will be included in the resolution.
Sen. Risch offered a provision to require the President to deploy all phases of the phased adaptive approach (European missile defense) but lost 7 – 12. Sen. Kerry opposed it because it said the President “shall” deploy, a mandate that would not be acceptable.
Sen. Risch offered a provision to request Russia to reduce their tactical nuclear weapons, which was defeated 7 – 12, although Sen. Corker talked about working for a modified version on the Senate floor. According to Senator Kerry, the resolution said that the United States would not remove tactical nuclear weapons from Europe even if every NATO country wanted them gone. It would also have suggested that the Russians should reduce tactical nuclear weapons in advance of any new negotiations.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) offered a provision endorsing every form of missile defense know to human-kind, saying that missile defense is important to U.S. security and Mutual Assured Destruction is antithetical to U.S. security. The amendment engendered the greatest debate of the day, redolent of the days Ronald Reagan, Cold War debates, the Senate endorsement of National Missile Defense in 1999 by a 97 – 3 vote and other great hits of the past. After Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) said he would support the provision, a number of Senators agreed to work on a revised draft (,y analysis: Democrats in 1999 and Democrats in 2010 have been and continue to be reluctant to vote against missile defense). Eventually the revised amendment passed by voice vote.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) provision endorsing another form of missile defense went down 5 – 12.
Sen. Inhofe amendment on verification violations and removal of shrouds from warheads was withdrawn.
Sen. Barasso (R-WY) provision endorsing the continued deployment of 450 Minuteman III missiles defeated by voice vote. Sen. Kerry called this a killer amendment because of the need for presidential flexibility on future deployments.
Sen. Inhofe amendment promoting the building of new strategic nuclear launchers such as bombers, air launched cruise missiles and submarines and prompt global strike (a conventional system) was defeated 5- 14.
Final passage vote:
Senators Voted In Favor:
John Kerry (D-MA)
Christopher Dodd (D-CN)
Russell Feingold (D-WI)
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)
Robert Casey (D-PA)
Jim Webb (D-VA)
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
Edward Kaufman (D-DE)
Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY)
Richard Lugar (R-IN)
Bob Corker (R-TN)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Senators Voted Against:
James Inhofe (R-OK)
James Risch (R-ID)
Roger Wicker (R-MS)
John Barrasso (R-WY)
Jim DeMint (R-SC)