Graham: Two START ‘stumbling blocks’ stand in way of his vote

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday that he didn’t know if the START treaty would come up for a vote in the lame-duck session, but said two “stumbling blocks” had to be removed in order to get his vote.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Graham said he was “very open-minded about the treaty,” which needs 67 votes for ratification in the Senate and would face an even greater hurdle with six fewer Democrats in the new Congress.

“You’ve got two impediments,” Graham said. “Modernization. Not only do we need a
START Treaty; we need to modernize our nuclear force, the weapons that
are left, to make sure they continue to be a deterrent. And we need to
make sure that we can employ — deploy missile defense systems that are
apart from START.

“So you’ve got two stumbling blocks,” he said.

Graham said those two issues would have to be dealt with, and in its current state he would not vote for the U.S.-Russia arms reduction treaty.

“(Sen.) Jon Kyl is working with the administration to get better modernization
to make sure that missile defense is not connected to START,” he said. “If you
could get those two things together, I would vote for the treaty.”

On CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, Sen. John Cornyn said that he didn’t think there would even be time to address the treaty in the lame-duck session because the continuing resolution
to keep the government operating and the extension of the Bush-era tax
cuts were more pressing.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of time,” Cornyn said when asked whether there would be time for a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” vote. “And I don’t think there’s a lot of
appetite to try to jam stuff through. The president said he wants to
pass a new START treaty in a lame duck session. I just don’t see
that happening.”

President Obama assured Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday
that the lame-duck session will be used to ratify the START
nuclear-arms treaty.

“I reiterated my commitment to getting the START treaty done during the
lame-duck session,” Obama said at a photo op, calling passage of the
treaty a “top priority” of his administration.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who served under President Clinton, said on “This Week” that it was “very important” that the treaty be ratified.

“First of all, it’s a good treaty,” Albright said. “But part of the problem is we
remember President Reagan said trust, but verify. And what has happened
is that the verification procedures have now not been in place for
almost a year, so we need that treaty for that.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) said last week that he expects START to come up for a vote in December.

Tags John Cornyn John Kerry Lindsey Graham

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