McConnell on START: ‘I cannot support the treaty’

by Robert Costa

From the Senate GOP Leader’s office:

Sen. McConnell discussed the START Treaty on CNN’s State of the Union program this morning. The following are excerpts from the program:

 On his position on the START Treaty: “I’ve decided that I cannot support the treaty. I think the verification provisions are inadequate and I do worry about the missile defense implications of it. The McCain amendment yesterday regarding missile defense was defeated, and  I know the administration actually sent a letter up yesterday, indicating they’re committed to missile defense. But an equally important question is how do the Russians view missile defense and how do our European allies view missile defense? And I’m concerned about it. I think if they’d taken more time with this—rushing it right before Christmas, it strikes me as trying to jam us. I think if they’d taken more time—I know the members of the Foreign Relations Committee spent a lot of time on this but the rest of us haven’t—and so all of a sudden we’re once again trying to rush things right here before Christmas Eve. I think that was not the best way to get the support of people like me.”

On timing of the vote: “It will be up to the majority to determine that, my assumption is we’re doing it now because they intend to try to get us to vote on it before Christmas. It’s not clear yet whether that will happen.”

Senate Democrats and GOP proponents are not ready to give up:

“I think we do” have the 67 votes to approve the treaty, Illinois Democrat Richard Durbin said in an interview on the “Fox News Sunday” program. Two other supporters of the agreement, Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry and Indiana Republican Richard Lugar, also said the treaty has the requisite support in the Senate.

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