Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 15, 2010

NEW START INCHES FORWARD.... Eight months after the nuclear arms treaty known as New START came together, the Senate finally began a floor debate this afternoon. The first hurdle, the motion to proceed, was cleared this afternoon, but the margin wasn't exactly overwhelming.

The Senate has moved ahead on a U.S.-Russia nuclear arms treaty, President Barack Obama's top foreign policy priority.

Democrats prevailed in a test vote, 66-32, winning the backing of eight Republicans to begin debate on the treaty.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) had said he'd force the clerk to read the entire treaty, wasting up to 12 hours for no reason, but this afternoon, that plan was scrapped.

With that out of the way, how is the vote shaping up? Looking at the roll call from today, eight nine Republicans -- Bennett (Utah), Brown (Mass.), Collins (Maine), Graham (R-S.C.), Lugar (R-Ind.), McCain (Ariz.), Murkowski (R-Alaska), Snowe (Maine), and Voinovich (Ohio) -- broke ranks and sided with the Democratic majority to move the process forward.

That's the good news. The bad news is 66 votes probably won't be enough.

To ratify, the Senate will need a two-thirds majority, which means 67 votes. However, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who hasn't raised any concerns about the treaty thus far, did not vote today for reasons I don't know. If Bayh is there for the final vote, and sides with the bipartisan majority, New START is a done deal.

For that matter, both Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) voted for the treaty in committee, so presumably they approve of it on a substantive level. They balked on the motion to proceed, but when it comes to a final vote, if either one of them supports ratification, that will give proponents 67 votes.

The Democratic leadership appears optimistic. Stay tuned.

Steve Benen 3:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

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Most likely Bayh will be the 67th vote. Perhaps that is why the Democratic leadership appears optimistic.

Posted by: Maritza on December 15, 2010 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe that a START treaty is having problems getting ratified. The Republicans really are children.

Posted by: Holmes on December 15, 2010 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe more Rs will do the right thing since the prelim vote passed and vote for it. And Bayh had better be a yes.

Otherwise the Dems have to loudly ask over and over why those 32 Republicans (33 with the liar Enzi, who also didn't vote today) want to make our country less safe. While thanking the Rs who voted for it.

Posted by: Hannah on December 15, 2010 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't be surprised if Murkowski (R-Alaska) will be more available to side with the Dems when it makes sense.

Posted by: Kevin (not the famous one) on December 15, 2010 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Why do Republicans hate America?


Posted by: Zorro on December 15, 2010 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

That stupid asshole prick Bayh is laying down his right-of-center bona fides to primary Obama or 3rd party him in '12, or a run in '16 for the Democrats.
Sorry, I can't stand that MFer.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on December 15, 2010 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sad to think that we've come to the point where a treaty modeled after the one negotiated by Ronald Reagan and given a glowing stamp of approval by Dick Lugar is being applauded because 8 Republicans deigned to vote to move it forward.

They're children. No - that's insulting to children - no child would act like this. I remember the days when Republicans restricted their childish antics and temper tantrums to domestic issues and at least treated national security issues with some deference. Who would have thought those might be the "good old days".

Posted by: NonyNony on December 15, 2010 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

If Bayh or some other senator doesn't vote at all, won't 66 be enough? It's 2/3 of 99.

Posted by: tamiasmin on December 15, 2010 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

I still say this was the silent part of the tax cut deal that they agreed not to talk about -- passing START and DADT repeal. Maybe the DREAM Act, too.

Which is not to say the Rethugs AREN'T jerks for blocking these things for so long.

Posted by: Molly Weasley on December 15, 2010 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Article II, Section 2 gives the President the power to make treaties, "provided two thirds of the Senators present concur." (This is different from the filibuster rule, where you need 3/5 of all seated Senators, present or not.)

So 66-32, or even 66-33, suffices. If Evan Bayh blows town, and the treaty gets 66 votes, it's ratified.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on December 15, 2010 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

so what's Corker and Isakson's problem? why didn't they vote for cloture? what a bunch of assholes.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on December 15, 2010 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Barely passing something so central to our national security is pathetic, but pass or fail, immeasurable damage has already been done because, as someone once said, "The whole world's watching." And what they see is a minority party that has lost its mind and is actively working in ways that undermine, if not actually destroy, America's foreign policy, (This treaty is only one example.). What they see has got to be as terrifying for our allies as it is for US citizens.

Posted by: Tomm Undergod on December 15, 2010 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Does a treaty need 67 votes or just 2/3 of the Senators voting?

Is it possible to pass 66-33?

Posted by: neil wilson on December 15, 2010 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Neil Wilson: Yes, read comment Posted by: low-tech cyclist on December 15, 2010 at 4:40 PM

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on December 15, 2010 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised McCain managed to suppress his rage long enough to vote for it.

Posted by: Steve on December 15, 2010 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

So, has anybody noticed that neither Iraq nor Afghanistan have any sort of real representative government? They have sort of, kind of parliamentary governments that are ruled by strong-man types who accept or reject election results as suits their needs. Both are kleptocratic remora-states attached to the side of the US. This is what thousands of lives, ten years of war and trillions of tax dollars have accomplished. Both of these places are the same as they always were, except worse in every way. We really, really need to face up to the fact that the US just totally screwed up here and we can't make it any better by continuing to do the same stupid shit year after year. We need to GET OUT NOW!

Posted by: mike on December 15, 2010 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK



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