Kerry: Saving START for next year 'a recipe for endless delay'

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Friday that postponing ratification of the new START treaty until the next Congress is "a recipe for endless delay."

Writing in the Boston Herald, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said that 18 hearings and more than 900 questions submitted by senators to the Obama administration about the nuclear-arms treaty with Russia showed that "this Senate has done its homework, and this group of senators should vote on the treaty."

"There is plenty of time to consider this treaty," Kerry wrote. "When the Senate returns Monday, there will be 33 days before the end of the year. The original START agreement in 1991 made deeper cuts in our nuclear weapons and the full Senate needed only five days of debate to approve it, 93 to 6. A significant national security matter hangs in the balance and the Senate should be willing to work overtime to allow for a full and complete consideration of the treaty.

"If time is the only concern, then we should have no concerns."

Christmas, of course, falls within that 33-day timetable, and it's unclear if the Senate will be willing to work up until Christmas Eve again, like the upper chamber did on healthcare reform last year.

But other pressing matters await senators returning from the Thanksgiving break, including the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year.

Kerry said START was a timely matter not just because of the "unequaled look" that the treaty would give the U.S. at Russia's nuclear arsenal, but ratification would "preserve the cooperative relationship that we have developed with Russia — especially at a key moment in preventing Iran from getting the bomb."

The White House has been putting pressure on Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to move the treaty forward. But Kyl said in a Nov. 16 statement, "When Majority Leader Harry Reid asked me if I thought the treaty could be considered in the lame duck session, I replied I did not think so given the combination of other work Congress must do and the complex and unresolved issues related to START and modernization."

“If they try to jam us, if they try to bring this up the week before Christmas, it’ll be defeated,” Kyl since told The New York Times in an article published this week. “If they allow plenty of time for it, and I think it will take two weeks, then it’s a different matter.”

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