Incoming GOP senators: ‘Improper’ to ratify START treaty in lame duck

Jon Ward Contributor
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A group of 10 incoming Republican senators sent a letter Thursday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid calling on him to postpone a vote on a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia until they have been seated.

“Out of respect for our states’ voters, we believe it would be improper for the Senate to consider the New START Treaty or any other treaty in a lame duck session prior to Jan. 3, 2011,” the letter said.

The letter was released to reporters by the office of Sen.-elect Roy Blunt of Missouri as President Obama was meeting at the White House with a large group of former national security officials, from Republican and Democratic administrations, to highlight the need for the Senate to approve the treaty this year.

The letter is the latest sign that, despite the very hard public push from the White House, Republicans have no inclination to budge from their position.

“Few matters will more directly impact our security than arms control agreements like New START that would dramatically reduce the U.S. nuclear deterrent in a strategic environment that is becoming ever more perilous,” the senators said.

They indicated that they will press for more concessions from the administration, noting that “proponents of this treaty, aware that today’s Senate is likely to support the agreement in higher numbers without our participation, are urging the Senate to give its advice and consent in the coming weeks.”

Besides Blunt, the letter was signed by Senators-elect John Boozman of Arkansas, Rob Portman of Ohio, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Mike Lee of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida.

Three Republican Senators-elect, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Dan Coats of Indiana, and Mark Kirk of Illinois, did not sign the letter.

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