Inside Congress: Quick Monday Update (and whip list)

There is no rest for this lame duck Congress.  After working over the weekend to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and pass the ridiculous food safety bill, the Senate returns this morning to continue consideration of the New START Treaty.

Over the weekend, two critical amendments failed.  One would have stripped language from the preamble that restricted our missile defense capability, the other would have included language on tactical nuclear weapons, which are absurdly absent from the treaty.

The significance of the missile defense amendment – introduced by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and John McCain (R-AZ) – cannot be understated.  Seven Senators who voted to proceed to the treaty voted in favor of the amendment:

  • Scott Brown (R-MA) – 202-224-4543
  • Susan Collins (R-ME) – 202-224-2523
  • Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who said Sunday he now opposed the treaty
  • Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) – 202-224-4041
  • John McCain (R-AZ) – 202-224-2235
  • Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) – 202-224-6665
  • Olympia Snowe (R-ME) – 202-2241-5344

These Senators wisely chose to amend the preamble language.  Unfortunately, a majority of their colleagues did not see their wisdom.  Now, these seven Senators face a stark choice – ratify a treaty they acknowledge is fatally flawed or wisely decide to step back and withhold their support.  Your calls could make the difference.

On Saturday, Senator McCain summed up the importance of the amendment:

The Russian government believes this clause from the preamble confers a legal obligation on the United States which constrains our missile defenses. Ever since President Reagan proposed a strategic defense initiative, the Russians have sought to limit our strategic defensive arms. They’ve sought to limit our missile defense programs through legal obligations, and, failing that, through political commitments or agreements that could be cited to confer future obligations. Words matter. To open ourselves up to this type of political threat by accepting an outdated interrelationship between nuclear weapons and missile defense is wrong.

Given Senator Graham’s opposition to the treaty, the Obama administration is looking for at least one more Senate Republican to support the treaty.  The following Senators, all of whom voted against proceeding to the treaty, are seemingly in play:

  • Lamar Alexander (R-TN) – 202-224-6361
  • Bob Corker (R-TN) – 202-224-3344
  • Chuck Grassley (R-IA) – 202-224-3744
  • Judd Gregg (R-NH) – 202-224-3324
  • Orrin Hatch (R-UT) – 202-224-5251
  • Johnny Isakson (R-GA) – 202-224-3643

The Obama administration is making one final push toward ratification of this dangerous treaty.  By doing so, they are ignoring the message sent by the American people on November 2nd.  Christmas is just five days away.  Take a minute to make a call – America’s national security depends on it.

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