START in Danger as Senate Delays

Web nuclear weapons (Based on an alert from the Friends Committee on National Legislation and used with permission.)

Please contact your Senators and urge them to support START. Recent events have increased concerns that the Senate may fail to ratify this important treaty between Russia and the United States.

Here's a sample email. The Senate switchboard number is 202-224-3121.

What is happening?

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee missed one of its last opportunities this year to approve the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia when it chose not to vote on the treaty before its recess started on August 7.

The Senate has held 21 hearings on the treaty and heard support from just about every current and former military and civilian leader of the United States, but several influential committee members are still not ready to vote. With elections approaching and a busy Senate calendar, that doesn't leave much time for a vote on START this year.

Why is START needed?

This delay is a setback for advancing us toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

  • START is needed to further reduce the number of deployed nuclear weapons in the arsenals of our country and Russia, from 2,200 to 1,550 each.
  • The treaty is also vital to U.S. national security. With the expiration in December 2009 of the first START treaty, inspections and verifications have stopped. The United States cannot send inspectors to verify Russian compliance with the old treaty limits. Those inspections can resume as soon as the new START is ratified.
  • If our Senate fails to ratify START, prospects dim for future ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

What should we do?

Write your senators today to urge them to speak out publicly in favor of the New START treaty and to press their Senate leadership to bring this treaty to a floor vote this fall. Here's a sample email. The Senate switchboard number is 202-224-3121.

Five groups of Senators are key
Corker (R-TN) and Isakson (R-GA). Corker and Isakson are the most important members of the Foreign Relations Committee. It is likely that without the support of Senator Corker and Senator Isakson there will be no START ratification.
Barrasso (R-WY), Risch (R-ID), and Wicker (R-MS). They are the other Foreign Relations Committee members who are undecided on START.
Reid (D-NV). Majority Leader Reid sets the Senate floor schedule. While he supports START, he has yet to commit to a floor vote before the election. Without Reid’s active support, there will be no floor vote.
Other Key Republicans. Senator Lugar (R-IN) is the one Republican senator to announce his support for START. Only Senator DeMint and Senator Inhofe (R-OK) have come out against the treaty. Seven other Republicans will be needed to reach the 67-vote threshold for ratification.
McConnell (R-KY) and McCain (R-AZ). Minority Leader McConnell and Senator McCain, the ranking member on Armed Services, will help shape Republican floor strategy on START. Both have supported previous arms reductions agreements, but have yet to state their positions on the treaty.

What is the timetable?

Time is running out. Only four weeks remain in the crowded Senate schedule during this mid-term election year.  In that short time, the Foreign Relations Committee and the full Senate would have to act. Senator Lugar (R-IN) and Senator Kerry (D-MA) are pressing for a vote in committee on September 16 and then a vote in the full Senate before the Senate recess on October 8. Yet the Senate has a lot of other work to do. The Senate leadership may dread spending hours or days of debate for the many amendments to START that opponents of the treaty may offer as a delaying tactic.  So, the Senate leaders should hear that ratifying this treaty is important to you.

You can help. Please write to your senators today.  Ask them to support the New START treaty and press for a vote on the Senate floor, before October 8.

Who supports START?

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) acting out of faith in Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace, has understood that working for God’s intended order and life abundant involves seeking international disarmament and arms control measures. The General Assembly first called for the elimination of nuclear weapons in 1955. The 215th General Assembly (2003) called the United States and Russia to reduce their nuclear arsenals to 1,000 warheads – a level below that proposed by START.

The treaty is supported by almost every past and current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by former Secretaries of State George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, James Baker, and Colin Powell, and former Secretaries of Defense James Schlesinger, Frank Carlucci and William Cohen. Read comments by some of the people who support this treaty.

Reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons will not achieve the wholeness, well-being, and justice of God's intended peace, however doing so is a critical step toward that peace.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)