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State of START

Despite concerns that the new START’s preamble contains language that links our strategic missile offense with defense, the U.S. Senate voted 59-37 to reject a Republican amendment that would have modified the preamble’s language.

The treaty heads for a ratification vote, as the Senate voted 67-28 to end debate. Who would have thought in the wake of a Republican takeover of the House that the troubled START would be so close to becoming ratified?

The Heritage Foundation’s Baker Spring said senators should not expect funding for modernizing nuclear weapons in exchange for approving START. The linkage is illusory. From The Foundry:

“Senators should understand that no matter how they may wish it were so, their vote will not get them any long-term funding for nuclear modernization. There is no deal. Moreover, Senators should also not be intimidated by the threat to withdraw this money if New START is not approved by the Senate.

“By threatening to withhold funding unless the treaty is ratified, this is playing crass politics with U.S. national security. Conditioning funding for nuclear program on New START is playing politics with our national security. If funds are needed for the most vital and sensitive military capability in the military’s arsenal, they should never be held hostage to a political deal. To bargain with the nation’s security is the antithesis of the appropriate behavior of the body charged to ‘provide for the common defense.’ If the dollars are needed, they should be provided without conditions—period.”

The Senate likely will approve START during the lame-duck session. Why have Republican senators capitulated to a policy they suspect will hamstring our missile defense strategy, while Russia gives up virtually nothing?

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