Nuclear Weapons

Republicans Hold Nuclear Weapons Treaty Ransom for Tax Cuts for Rich

Republican Senator John Kyl (R- AZ) laid his cards on the table regarding the START Treaty this week.  Republicans have been following his lead on the treaty, and he states he will continue to signal opposition to the treaty unless the White House and Democratic leadership agree to extend the Bush tax cuts for millionaires. During bipartisan meetings between Senate leaders, Republicans made it clear that eliminating 500 Nuclear Warheads aimed at America was not as high a priority as tax cuts for millionaires.

“If the taxes all can’t be resolved and voted on and completed and spending for the government for the next ten months completed by like next Monday, I don’t know how there’s enough time to complete START,” Kyl said.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry  countered Senator Kyl, saying that America expects the Senate to make time. This from his statement on the Senate floor:

“…when it comes to protecting our national security, the American people always expect us to make the time. And that’s exactly what we’re prepared to do. We will work around the clock. If time is the only concern, then we have no concerns. Given the time it took to consider past treaties, it’s clear that we can do this. We’re not new to this business—we can get this treaty done.”

Senator Kerry challenged his Republican opponents to explain why reducing Nuclear Weapons is not their top priority:

“But ultimately we need to approve this treaty because it is critical to U.S. security.” Kerry said “ It is better to have fewer nuclear weapons aimed at the United States, to have the right to inspect Russian facilities, and to have Moscow as an ally in the fight against Iranian proliferation. Our military thinks it is better to have these things. If my colleagues disagree, let them make that case to the full Senate—and to the American people.”

Sen. Kyl must have forgotten that in 1992, the START I Treaty was passed by the Senate 93-6 after only 5 days of debate. The START II Treaty only took 2 days in 1996, but Kyl couldn’t personally find the time to show up for the vote. Indeed, after seven months of detailed negotiations with the White House, it’s incredible for Kyl to claim that “there is not enough time to consider the treaty this year” Especially given all the goodies the White House has been throwing at him to get his cooperation.

“The White House has been working with Mr. Kyl for months and argues that it has gone out of its way to address his concerns about modernization. It had already proposed spending $80 billion over 10 years on the nuclear complex and then added another $4.1 billion on Nov. 12 and a little more last week. But White House officials felt blindsided by Mr. Kyl’s statement that it was not yet enough to assuage him on the treaty.

The White House, Pentagon, Republican and Democratic Senators, former Secretaries of State, Catholic Bishops and the Pope also disagree with the START Treaty being a secondary priority and a political football. Retired four-star Army general and former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Colin Powell, said that  he fully supports the treaty, and believes Obama has adequately addressed the concerns of Republicans lawmakers over verification and modernization of the remaining U.S. nuclear arsenal. “Failing to ratify the treaty,” Powell said, “could leave the U.S. in a vulnerable position.”

“We’re not exactly sure what’s going on in the Russian Federation, and they’re not exactly sure what’s going on in the United States,” said Powell, who joined Obama in urging the Senate to ratify the treaty by the end of the year.”

Senator Kyl and the right-wing of the GOP are just marginalizing themselves as the broad, bipartisan and nonpartisan support for New START continues to expand every day:

“Citing the Catholic Church‘s concern for the sanctity of human life, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace called on U.S. senators to set aside politics and ratify the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.”… Bishop Hubbard’s letter pointed to statements that Pope Benedict and the U.S. bishops have made welcoming the treaty …as well as long-standing support within the church for nuclear arms control.”

So, national security experts, current and former military leaders, leaders of many major religious organizations, NGOs, Nobel Laureates, the majority of the American public, all want the Senate to ratify this treaty. And who is standing in the way?

In the final analysis, the passage of the START treaty may come down to seven Republican Senators. Click here to find your Senator, and give them a call letting them know you want them to support the START Treaty.

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