Democratic leaders said they’ve “reached out in every way possible” to accommodate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.) and his reservations over New START, and now they want some “reciprocity.”
Just minutes after 12 Republicans Senators announced that ratification of the treaty must wait until the new congress convenes next year, Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.) told reporters not to declare it dead just yet. “Let’s see how people feel tomorrow,” he said, adding that Democrats planned to allow “a fair amount of time” for additional debate and give Republicans the chance to offer further amendments to the bill.
Still, it’s difficult to see the treaty getting passed in the lame-duck session. Many Republicans who were viewed as potential ‘yes’ votes — like Sens. George LeMieux (R., Fla.), Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) and Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) — joined with Kyl to express their frustration that the massive omnibus spending package introduced yesterday has been “dual-tracked” with START. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), another potential supporter, told us earlier today that New START “seems like it’s just not going to work” before the end of the year.
Kerry insisted passage was still possible, and urged Republicans act in good faith. “The question is not ‘Why now?’ The question [should] be ‘Why delay?’ Kerry said. “This can’t be a one way street.”
Kerry said Democrats would likely bring the treaty to a vote even if they thought it might fail, saying he had met with Vice President Joe Biden this week and both agreed that if there was a chance the treaty could fail in the current congress, it would certainly fail in the next one. The White House, Kerry said, would rather hold a vote now and lose than wait until next year.