Entries in START Treaty (15)


President Obama Signs START Treaty

Photo Courtesy - The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama signed the START nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia Wednesday morning.

Despite the great attention the president has devoted to this treaty -- and the vast coverage of the treaty negotiations by the media -- the White House refused to allow reporters or TV cameras in the room. Still photographers were the only representatives of the free press permitted to record the historic moment.

Those cameras captured President Obama signing the documents, seated at the Resolute Desk. Behind him stood Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., Dick Lugar, R-Ind., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Vice President Biden.

The White House Correspondents Association protested the White House’s decision to refuse to permit reporters access to the event, in addition to the dearth of press briefings since the crisis in Egypt began to unfold, a crisis in which President Obama continues to celebrate the great freedoms and openness enjoyed in this country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Hails Victories of Lame Duck; Has 'Evolving Feelings' on Gay Marriage

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (WASHINGTON) -- Taking a victory lap at the end of what he called the most "productive post-election period" in decades, the president celebrated the raft of new laws passed in the final weeks of the year, including the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which Wednesday he signed into law.

Asked by ABC News why he believed gay Americans should now be allowed to fight and die for their country but not enter into legally sanctioned marriages, the president admitted that he struggled with the duality in those positions.

"My feelings are constantly evolving," Obama told reporters about his position on gay marriage.

"I have friends, I have people who work for me, who are in powerful long-lasting gay or lesbian unions," he said, acknowledging that same-sex marriage is "something that means a lot to them."

"My baseline is a strong civil union that affords them legal protections," the president said Wednesday, just before leaving for his Christmas vacation in Hawaii. "I recognize from their perspective, it's not enough."

The president hailed the bipartisan effort put forth by lawmakers in recent weeks, passing bills on cutting taxes, the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," food safety, providing health care to rescue workers sickened on 9/11, and the START treaty on nuclear weapons with Russia.

"If there is any lesson to draw from the past few weeks it's that we are not doomed to endless gridlock," the president said.

Obama admitted to being disappointed by Congress' inability to pass the omnibus spending bill and the DREAM ACT, a bill that would fast-track young, illegal immigrants to citizenship after finishing two years in the military or in college.

When he returns from Hawaii, the president intends to hold a bipartisan retreat at Camp David, White House sources said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 


Holiday Rush: Senate Advances to Final Vote on START, Plans to Take Up 9/11 Bill Before Christmas

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Congress is inching ever closer to that Christmas break as lawmakers continue a flurry of last-minute work before the holiday.

The Senate Tuesday afternoon voted to move forward to a final vote on the START nuclear treaty with Russia. The pact overcame the Senate's 60-vote procedural hurdle with ease, advancing by a count of 67-28.

That "67" number is key, since the pact needs the support of two-thirds of the Senate for ratification -- 67 votes would get the job done. And it appears a near-certainty that it will get those votes, since 11 Republicans support the treaty: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Bob Bennett of Utah, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Susan Collins of Maine, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Dick Lugar of Indiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Olympia Snowe of Maine, and George Voinovich of Ohio.

A final vote could come late Tuesday, but more likely sometime on Wednesday.

"If in the end, the Senate in its wisdom ratifies this treaty, it's a victory for the country, not a victory for anybody else -- a victory for the country and that's what we're looking for," said Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry.

Once START is out of the way, the Senate is set to take another shot at passing a $6.2 billion measure to provide health care benefits and compensation first responders sickened during the clean-up after the 9/11 attacks.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Senate's Number Three Republican Announces Support for START

Photo Courtesy - Alexander [dot] Senate [dot] gov(WASHINGTON) -- Another GOP senator came out in favor of the START pact Tuesday -- and it’s no less than the chamber’s number three Republican.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said he will vote in favor of ratification.

“I will vote to ratify the treaty because it leaves our countries with enough nuclear warheads to blow any attacker to Kingdom Come,” Alexander said in a speech on the Senate floor.

“In short, I’m convinced that Americans are safer and more secure with the new START treaty than without it,” he noted.

Alexander said he and three other senators had written to President Obama earlier this week asking the president to include funding for nuclear modernization in his budget requests to Congress and Monday the president sent a reply letter agreeing to the request.

Alexander's vote is a big boost for Democrats -- the treaty now appears likely to pass later this week, barring a last-minute setback.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


With Sen. Scott Brown on Board, Momentum Building for START Treaty Passage

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Supporters of the START nuclear pact with Russia Monday sounded confident that the treaty will receive the two-thirds majority needed for Senate passage when it comes up for a final vote this week.

“I believe we have the votes to pass this treaty,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry at a brief press conference on Capitol Hill. Kerry and the panel’s ranking Republican, Dick Lugar, made similar comments Sunday to ABC News.

That confidence appeared warranted Monday as momentum seemed to be building for the treaty. After a closed Senate session to discuss classified information relating to the pact, Republican Scott Brown of Massachusetts told reporters that he would back the treaty.

“I believe it’s something that’s important for our country and it’s a good move forward to deal with our national security issues,” Brown said.

A procedural vote on ending debate on the treaty is set for Tuesday morning. The treaty will need 60 votes to make it past the procedural hurdle, but that appears to be a mere formality at this point. A final vote could then come later Tuesday or sometime on Wednesday.

A spokesman for Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon, who underwent prostate cancer surgery on Monday, said the senator would do whatever possible to cast his vote on Capitol Hill if his vote is needed. If all 100 senators vote, the treaty would need 67 votes for ratification. If 99 senators vote, it would need 66.

Republican leaders Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Jon Kyl of Arizona have both announced their opposition to the pact.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 


State Dept.: Dems Have Votes to Ratify START, GOP Concerns Are Purely Political Now

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The State Department Monday urged the Senate to vote on New START nuclear agreement this week, saying it believed the treaty would pass ratification.
"We're closely monitoring this. You know, we're doing our own whip count here, but we believe the votes are there to ratify the treaty," spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters.
Asked about the persistent Republican concerns about the treaty, Crowley said those appear to be motivated only by politics rather than substance.
"We believe that we've answered all the questions that have been raised," Crowley said. "Any objections at this point are more about politics than substance. And that's regrettable because it's contrary to the history of strong bipartisan support, you know, for arms control treaties going back decades," he added.

Critics disagree, saying the agreement will slash America's military and nuclear weapons capabilities at a time when Russia, China, and North Korea are ramping up their military preparedness.
Secretary of State Clinton has made several calls to Senators in recent days urging them to vote for the deal and did so from her office again Monday. We're told she is holding off on going out of town for the holidays until New START is resolved.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Senate Sets START, Government Funding Procedural Votes

Photo Courtesy - Reid [dot] Senate [dot] gov(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Sunday night that the START nuclear treaty with Russia will come up for a procedural vote Tuesday morning.

The treaty will need 60 votes to make it past the procedural hurdle.  If the Senate votes Tuesday to end debate on the treaty, a final vote on the pact would come before Thursday, with 67 votes needed for ratification.

“We’ve made some real progress on this and I do hope this matter can pass,” Reid said on the Senate floor Sunday.  “We’re going to work on it as long as it takes.”

Also on Tuesday, the Senate will hold a procedural vote on a continuing resolution to fund the government through March 4.  The measure would fund the government essentially at 2010 levels, with only a $1 billion increase.  Government funding is currently set to run out at the end of Tuesday, so Congress will have to pass the new continuing resolution by the end of the day to avert a federal shutdown. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called a shutdown unlikely.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


President Obama's Weekly Address: Further Delay of Ratifying START "Comes at a Cost"

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama warns in his weekly address that further delay of ratifying the START treaty will come at a cost.
“Every minute we drag our feet is a minute that we have no inspectors on the ground at those Russian nuclear sites,” Obama says, “Ratifying a treaty like START isn’t about winning a victory for an administration or a political party. It’s about the safety and security of the United States of America
The president said that he’s “hopeful” that the two parties can come together to get this done before leaving for the holiday break.
“Without a new treaty, we’ll risk turning back the progress we’ve made in our relationship with Russia, which is essential to enforce strong sanctions against Iran, secure vulnerable nuclear materials from terrorists, and resupply our troops in Afghanistan. And we’ll risk undermining American leadership not only on nuclear proliferation, but a host of other challenges around the world. “
The president noted that the time has been taken to consider the bill -- 18 hearings, and 1,000 questions asked and answered.
“Further delay comes at a cost,” he says, “It’s time to get this done.
Quoting former Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg the president repeated that “politics stops at the water’s end.”
Today, over sixty years later, when we’re threatened not only by nuclear weapons, but an array of other dangers, that’s a principle we must continue to uphold.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 


Senate to Debate START Treaty, Spending Bill in Final Year-End Flurry

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With the tax bill passed through the Senate and headed to the House, senators are now set to begin work on ratifying the START treaty and passing the omnibus spending bill to fund the government for the next year.

Debate on the former officially starts Thursday morning.  It needs 67 votes for ratification.

As for the latter, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to bring the spending bill to the chamber’s floor as well -- part of the Democrats' plan to dual-track both bills in an effort to speed up the Senate's pace with so little time left in the lame-duck.  Democrats lose much of their majority when the new Congress is sworn in early in January and control of the House switches over to Republican hands.

Time is important on the funding front for another, more important reason: the latest stop-gap temporary funding resolution runs out Sunday at 12:01 a.m.  If Congress does not act before then, then a government shutdown could occur.

Senators expect to spend the next few days working on these two issues, with the Senate now planning to stay in session all weekend.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


DeMint Wants Treaty Read, But Missed Hearings

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Frustrated with Sen. Jim DeMint’s support for a move to require an oral reading of the START nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia -- a move that could take as long as 12-15 hours in these waning lame-duck days -- an Obama administration official notes that DeMint only attended five of the 12 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on START, nor was he present for the final vote to order the treaty reported on the 16th.

DeMint attended the May 18 and 19, June 15 and 24, and July 14 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings, plus the Committee markup session on Sept. 16. 

Tweeted Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.: “# of hours to read START on Sen. floor = 12-15, # of comm. hearings DeMint missed on START = 7. No wonder he needs to have it read to him.”

DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton says that his boss supports the reading of the full treaty precisely as a way to delay the vote.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio