Let the START Recriminations Begin

by Rich Lowry

Just checked in with a Republican source in the Senate about the state of play on the New START Treaty. Sen. Jon Kyl is being portrayed as a threat to national security for telling Harry Reid there’s not enough time to ratify the treaty in the lame-duck session. This source counters that the White House was slow to take Kyl’s calls for enhanced nuclear modernization seriously. It wasn’t until last Friday that the administration really began to engage him on modernization, flying officials out to Phoenix to brief him. It was only this afternoon that Kyl got a revised modernization plan from the administration. The key questions for Kyl are whether that program is adequate, and whether it can be assured adequate funding. Meantime, it’s unlikely Republicans are going to go along with a rush to ratification in the lame-duck, when the only rationale for it is avoiding dealing with more Republicans in the new Senate. Kyl hasn’t yet taken a position on the merits of the treaty. He’ll weigh whether the treaty can be rendered innocuous enough that it makes it worth the trade for a ramped-up modernization program. But he’s not going to make that judgment in the next few weeks on the administration’s timetable.

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