News / USA

Key Votes Loom for US-Russia Nuclear Treaty

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., center, speaks as Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., left, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., listen after a closed Senate session in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Dec. 20, 2010.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., center, speaks as Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., left, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., listen after a closed Senate session in the Old Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Dec. 20, 2010.
Michael Bowman

By a margin of nearly two-to-one, the U.S. Senate on Monday rejected more Republican-sponsored amendments to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START accord, with Russia.  Treaty proponents hope for a final vote later this week, despite objections from a bloc of Republicans who are strongly opposed to ratification in the waning days of an end-of-year congressional session.  

The Senate voted down three amendments put forth by Republican critics of the New START treaty.  One amendment would have boosted the number of inspections performed at nuclear facilities.  Another would have raised the number of nuclear launchers permitted by the accord.

As written, the pact would limit the United States and Russia to roughly 1,500 deployed long-range nuclear warheads, and 700 delivery systems such as intercontinental ballistic missiles and heavy bombers.  A third amendment would have committed the United States and Russia to future negotiations on tactical nuclear weapons, which are not covered by the New START treaty.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010.
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010.

A frustrated minority leader, Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, criticized Democratic resistance to modifying the accord. "If it is the position of the majority that the treaty cannot be amended, why have any debate at all?"

Treaty proponents say the goal of the Republican amendments is not to improve the treaty, but to kill it because any changes would send it back to Moscow for approval.  Russia's foreign minister has warned against rewriting the accord.

The treaty is one of numerous measures the Senate has taken up since the November midterm elections that boosted Republican numbers in both houses of Congress.

McConnell criticized what he says are Democratic efforts to ram divisive bills through the legislature before the new Congress arrives next month. He said the New START treaty deserves careful consideration and should be postponed.

"A decision of this magnitude should not be decided under the pressure of a deadline.  The American people do not want us to squeeze our most important work into the final days of a [legislative] session," said McConnell.

"Is there no shame, ever, with respect to the arguments made on the floor of the United States Senate?," asked Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "This treaty is not being rushed.  This treaty was delayed at the request of Republicans.  Today marks our sixth day of debate on the New START treaty.  That's a fact."

At the White House, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the treaty has had ample vetting and that President Barack Obama is lobbying senators to support the pact. "The White House believes that before Congress leaves town, the Senate will ratify the New START treaty," he said.

Senators met in closed session for private discussions on the treaty. Afterward, Senator Kerry said senators were read a letter from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, describing the New START accord as critical for national security.

The treaty faces two important tests in the coming days.  A procedural vote that is expected on Tuesday will require at least a three-fifths majority to advance the treaty to a final vote, which could come as early as Wednesday.  The treaty then would need at least two-thirds backing for ratification.  Sixty-six of 100 senators voted in favor of opening debate on the accord last week.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs