In the flurry of lame-duck victories for President Obama and
the Democrats, the ratification of the START Treaty probably tells the
story about the coming two years. The GOP opponents of approving START
there wasn't enough time, though the first START in 1992 and its
successor in 2003
both passed in a week or less on the Senate floor. There was ample time.
13 Republican senators joining the Democrats to ratify the arms-control
agreement — four more than the necessary nine to reach a required 67
votes — there was ample
support as well.
The New York Times has a fascinating take on how the GOP has divided into two groups on national-security issues, the formers and the futures, and that beyond START, Obama's broader disarmament agenda isn't likely to go very far. Here is an excerpt:
The list of former cold warriors who supported New Start jumped out from the front pages of the cold war and the George W. Bush administration: Henry A. Kissinger, George P. Shultz and Condoleezza Rice. George H. W. Bush, who signed the Start II treaty in 1993 with President Boris N. Yeltsin of Russia, issued a brief statement of support. But some of the current powers in the party, including Republicans who may have their eyes on challenging Mr. Obama, from Mitt Romney to Sarah Palin, denounced it as a weakening of the United States, arguing that it limited missile defenses. Mr. Obama ultimately beat that argument back, pointing to his deployment plan of a series of layered missile defenses over the next decade, mostly aimed at containing the likes of nuclear aspirants, chiefly Iran. “By and large, this debate has revealed two breeds of Republicans,” said Franklin C. Miller, a hawk on nuclear issues who helped devise President George W. Bush’s nuclear strategies, but also worked for his four predecessors.
“There are those who understand the history of the cold war and the need to put verifiable controls on nuclear weapons,” he said. “And there is another school which may or may not understand the issues, but is happy to treat them as a political football.”
Besides three retiring Republican senators, the following senators bucked their leader and voted for START: Sens. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderDemocrats block energy spending bill over Iran amendment Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico pressure builds; Big tariff vote Wednesday Senate votes to increase wind energy funding MORE of Tennessee, Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonSenate approves new Veterans Affairs watchdog Overnight Regulation: Republicans move to block financial adviser rule Senate Republicans move to block financial adviser rule MORE of Georgia, Mike JohannsMike JohannsTo buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington Republican senator vows to block nominees over ObamaCare co-ops Revisiting insurance regulatory reform in a post-crisis world MORE of Nebraska, Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiThe Hill's 12:30 Report Bishop eyes new Puerto Rico bill after recess Week ahead: Senate looks to wrap up energy, water spending bill MORE of Alaska, Dick Lugar of Indiana, Thad CochranThad CochranFirst US Zika death reported in Puerto Rico Overnight Healthcare: Medicare fight looms on Capitol Hill Senate GOP hardening stance against emergency funding for Zika MORE of Mississippi, Bob CorkerBob CorkerHousing groups argue Freddie Mac's loss should spur finance reform Iran and heavy water: Five things to know Trump seeks approval from foreign policy experts, but hits snags MORE of Tennessee, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Susan CollinsSusan CollinsLarry Wilmore, Sting party in DC ahead of WHCD GOP women push Trump on VP pick Sanders is most popular senator, according to constituent poll MORE of Maine.
Obama can expect to lose numerous Democratic votes in the Senate next year — Democrats up for reelection in 2012 in Virginia, Montana, Missouri and other battlegrounds are going to side with Republicans much of the time, giving the GOP effective control. But the list of senators who voted for START are Republicans to watch, as they could provide the most likely path to bipartisanship in the Senate next year.
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