I’m aware that Richard Lugar spends his days in Washington and I don’t. I’m aware he has more access to his Senate colleagues, particularly in the Republican caucus. But I still think I’ll end up more right than him about this:
Sen. Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, predicted Friday that a “large majority” of members in his party will back a key nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia and that it will be ratified.
So far, Lugar (Ind.) has been the only Senate Republican to back the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which was negotiated in the spring but has yet to be ratified by the Senate. The Indiana Republican predicted that the treaty pass his committee in mid-September and will come up for a vote in the lame-duck session after the November elections.
“In fairness to the Republicans in the Senate, I think a majority in fact do favor the treaty nominally and will eventually vote for the treaty,” he said in an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program that will air Sunday. If it is brought up, “a large number of Republicans will be in favor of the treaty, but not all of them,” he said.
President Obama has urged the Senate to ratify the treaty for months, but it has been stalled in the Senate due to Republican doubts over the agreement.
What planet is Lugar on? Currently, Republicans would rather lose Russian nuclear base inspections than ratify this treaty, and they’re using it to gain leverage for pork-barrel spending on nuclear weapons “modernization,” which has basically nothing to do with this treaty. If it wasn’t that, they’d hold it hostage for maintaining Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, or more sanctions on Iran, or giving the “state of Jesus” statehood, or any of a thousand other ideas.
This is a case where Lugar and a disciplined Democratic caucus can’t get this done; treaties require 67 Senate votes for ratification. I’m not seeing eight helpful Republicans out there.
Lugar pronounced himself “hopeful” that the treaty won’t become a political football. So, a wish and a pony. Frankly, a political football – this time, based on the expiration of inspections and the threat of rogue actors obtaining nuclear material – is probably the only way this gets passed at all.