By Laura Rozen
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) patiently presided Wednesday 22 Dec. as his Senate colleagues made their final remarks before voting 71 to 26 to ratify the new START treaty.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Kerry had been on the Senate floor for about 70 hours since START debate began last Wednesday, aides calculated.
In shepherding the U.S.-Russian arms control pact through the Senate, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations panel held over twenty meetings and had over thirty phone calls with figures integral to the process, including Vice President Joe Biden, key Republican Senate negotiators Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Bob Corker (R-Tenn), in the past week.
Until recent days, however, the only Republican senator who had openly declared that he would support the treaty was Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the ranking Republican on the foreign relations panel and a long-time leader on U.S.-Russian arms control who in 2004 took then Sen. Barack Obama on his first Codel trip to see Russian nuclear sites.
In the end, while Kerry, Lugar and the administration were able to get 13 Republican Senators — more than the ten needed — to ratify new START, not among the Republican ayes were Kyl, McCain or Graham. (Corker, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations panel, voted both for the treaty in committee and for ratification this week, as did his fellow Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander. Their state, Tennessee, houses Oak Ridge nuclear facility which stands to gain from some of the $85 billion in nuclear complex modernization funds the Obama administration has committed to invest over the next ten years as part of its effort to get Republican support for the treaty.)
Historically bipartisan efforts to push “back the dark frontier of nuclear conflict … have not always been perfect,” Kerry said in his final remarks before the final vote. “Nothing in life or policy ever is. But as we end this debate now, let us take our own step forward for America and for the world.”
“As stewards of enormous destructive power, we too can become the stewards of peace,” Kerry concluded.
“One does not have to abandon one’s skepticism of the Russian government or dismiss contentious foreign policy disagreements with Moscow to invest in the practical enterprise of nuclear verification and transparency,” Lugar said in his closing remarks. “In fact, it is precisely the friction in our broader relationship that makes this treaty so important.”
Vice President Biden then presided over the final Senate roll call vote on the treaty, for which Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) returned after undergoing cancer surgery Monday.
Beyond Lugar, the 13 Republican senators who voted for the treaty were Ohio’s outgoing senator George Voinovich, Utah’s outgoing Bob Bennett, Tennessee’s two senators Corker and Alexander, Mississippi’s Thad Cochran (the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations panel), Georgia’s Johnny Isakson, Massachusetts’s Scott Brown, New Hampshire’s Judd Gregg, Maine’s two senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, and Nebraska’s Mike Johanns. Three outgoing Republican senators did not vote — Missouri’s Kit Bond, Kansas’s Sam Brownback, and Kentucky’s Jim Bunning.
All 56 Democratic Senators voted yes, plus Connecticut Independent Joe Lieberman and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders.
Of the wide margin for the final vote, Kerry drew praise.
„John Kerry impressed many in the administration with his adept handling of the floor debate,” one non-proliferation hand said Wednesday on condition of anonymity. „He often was a lonely voice on the Senate floor, playing defense against hordes of Republican amendments with little backup from other Democrats. He demonstrated intelligence, agile debating skills, command of his facts, passion when called for, and a wry sense of humor at other times.
„If indeed he is gunning for Secretary of State in a second term, the past month has bolstered his cause,” the nonproliferation hand continued, adding that he was also impressed with the advocacy for START played by freshman Democratic senators Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
Praising the „internationalist coalition that passed this treaty,” moderate Republican foreign policy analyst Robert Kagan nevertheless lamented that several key Republican senators had ultimately voted against the treaty.
„Even Obama-hating Republicans need to remember that we have only one president at a time, and it’s in our national interest that he be regarded around the world as someone who can speak and act with broad national support,” Kagan wrote at the Washington Post.
McCain, in a statement explaining his no vote, said despite „great work and goodwill by colleagues on both sides of the aisle” to address his concerns that the treaty not limit U.S. missile defenses, he and the administration were not in the end able to come to agreement. Though McCain, Kerry, Kyl and Biden and aides were said to be negotiating through Tuesday night, by then the administration knew it already had more than the ten Republican votes it needed to ratify the treaty.
But Tennessee’s Corker said Republican engagement with the administration over the treaty had yielded sufficient assurances on missile defense and funding for the nuclear complex to warrant ratification. Or as he put it in his floor speech Tuesday, „can we (Republicans) say ‚yes’ to yes?”Źródło: Ben Smith’s Daily Update 22 Dec. 2010