When Politicians Are Honest

Today Senator Kerry announced that he would delay the Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote on the new START Treaty. It appears that several Republican senators are on the verge of committing to vote for it, but have submitted several questions to the Obama Administration that they want answered before they come out in support of the Treaty. Utterly predictably, the line from Minority Leader McConnell is that the Treaty will be in good shape if the Administration doesn’t rush it:

The only way this treaty gets in trouble is if it’s rushed… My advice to the president was, don’t try to jam it, answer all the requests, and let’s take our time and do it right.

Minor problem. The last START Treaty expired in December. Which means the US hasn’t had observers in Russia since December. Which means that we have no idea what the Russians have been doing with their nuclear weapons since December. One would think this would expedite the process of passing the Treaty. As I said, only a minor problem.

But what Senator McConnell said next provided the inspiration for the title of this post:

All they have to do is find enough money to satisfy Senator Kyl that they are prepared to do what they said they would do… If it’s important to you, you can find a way, in an over a trillion dollar discretionary budget to fund it. In my view they need to do that, because without that I think the chances of ratification are pretty slim.

I had to stare at that one for a while.

Senator Kyl wants more funds for modernizing the US’ nuclear weapons. Yet President Obama has already drastically increased funding; our spending on modernizing our nuclear weapons has increased by 15% under this Administration.

I’ll let neoconservative Robert Kagen respond to that one: “But the issue [of modernizing] has nothing to do with New START’s intrinsic strengths or weaknesses.”

So the Senate Republicans are holding up a nuclear arms reduction treaty that has received unbelievable amounts of bipartisan support, thereby denying the United States the ability to monitor Russian nuclear weapons, because Senator Kyl doesn’t think a 15% increase in spending on nuclear modernization is enough.

I’m glad Senator McConnell was honest about this.