As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) prepares to bring New START to the floor, it appears that Sen. Jim DeMint will move to have the entire text of the agreement read aloud on the Senate floor. Reaction from the White House was swift, with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs condemning DeMint for “wast[ing] 12 hours” of the Senate’s time.
“This is a new low in putting political stunts ahead of our national security,” Gibbs said.
The full White House statement:
This is a new low in putting political stunts ahead of our national security, and it is exactly the kind of Washington game-playing that the American people are sick of. While some express concern that the Senate doesn’t have time to debate the Treaty, Senator DeMint wants to waste 12 hours to read the text of a treaty that has been available to every member of the Senate and the public for more than eight months. This Treaty has been the subject of nearly 20 Senate hearings and 1,000 questions, and is supported by President George H.W. Bush, every living Republican Secretary of State, our NATO allies, and the military leadership of the United States of America. Every minute that the START Treaty is being read on the Senate floor increases the time that we lack verification of Russia’s nuclear arsenal. It is the height of hypocrisy to complain that there is not enough time to consider this Treaty, while wasting so much time reading aloud a document that was submitted to the Senate months ago.
Wesley Denton, spokesman for Senator DeMint, sends NRO this response:
“Americans didn’t vote in November to ram through Obama’s agenda in December. Congress should do what’s necessary, stop tax increases and fund the government with a continuing resolution, and then wait for other important debates until the leaders Americans just elected are seated. This is a desperate last-minute rush by politicians thrown out of office to ram through deficit spending, pork-barrel earmarks, and a treaty that could weaken national security on their way out the door. Senator DeMint has made it clear that he’s going to use every tool available to stop the controversial START Treaty from being rammed through during the lame duck session, so that the senators Americans elected have a chance to review it next Congress. Additionally, the Obama administration has not been cooperative in providing the necessary documents to debate the treaty, as they have continually refused to share the negotiating records even after it was revealed they held undisclosed talks with Russians over missile defense.”
UPDATE: The read-aloud has been called off, as Democrats have agreed to run the clock anyway, getting debate time extended whilst saving the clerk’s voice.