Don't expect the Senate to complete ratification of the follow-on Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty anytime soon, according to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ).
The senator, who spoke today at an Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis-sponsored symposium on Capitol Hill, didn't exude much optimism that the treaty could be ratified before the end of this year.
"There are so many things that we have not yet had permission to read," Kyl said, including the State Department's record of the negotiations between U.S. and Russian officials that concluded earlier this year. There are "still hundreds of questions that have not been answered from the administration. . . . Both the Armed Services Committee and the (Select) Intelligence Committee have more hearings and more work to do, even if the Foreign Relations Committee is ready to wind her up," he continued, adding:
And of course there's the resolution for ratification -- we have not even begun to consider the things that need to go into that. What thoughtful people need to do is to say, 'Slow down, you will have a better chance of getting the treaty through if you try to do it the right way. If you try to run roughshod over those who have legitimate questions to ask, you try and jam it through and you don't take into account the things that we’ve raised here, then you are less likely to get it ratified than you are if you do it right,' even, I would suggest, if we get into the next Congress.
Republicans do not have a reflexive position no or yes on this, most of us have kept our powder dry, and so I'm hoping the administration will view this as a legitimate opportunity for bipartisanship which they keep calling for. Now, will it happen in September? Well it's not gonna happen this month, it's not likely to happen in September either, because there are only about three weeks of legislative time, and that's gonna be the last opportunity for Democrats to do whatever they have to do prior to the election for their election campaign purposes -- a tax bill, or something of that nature, for example.
And so that leaves the lame-duck session. Now, that offers some opportunities, obviously, but you're gonna have the omnibus appropriations bill, which will consume a lot of time in the lame-duck session, that's only about a two-and-a-half-week period between the election and Christmas that you can really take advantage of, unless you wanna work all the way through Thanksgiving. And there will be other things that they have saved up, some political things that they'd want to do then. Will this be the time for the START Treaty? Well, that's not the best time, to be sure, but I would say this: If they have gotten this 302(b) allocation issue straightened out, and if the omnibus appropriations bill clearly has all the money in it for 2011, and if the budget for the next year clearly has all the budget in it for 2012, and if the (nuclear weapons) modernization program has been spruced up, and if our questions have been answered, and we've had the opportunity to write and think about carefully the full resolution of ratification that all of us want to have, then there's a theoretical possibility that the treaty could be considered at that time, but if they don't, then I don't think it could. Or should, let's put it that way.