Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday rejected President Barack Obama’s overtures to gain his support for action on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty during the lame-duck session.
“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,” Kyl said in a statement.
“I appreciate the recent effort by the administration to address some of the issues that we have raised and I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Kerry, DOD, and DOE officials,” he said.
The Arizona Republican’s comments come as the administration has been publicly courting him to get behind ratifying the new arms deal with Russia in the coming weeks.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates personally reached out to Kyl late last week to try to win his support on moving the treaty forward. Obama said Sunday that he felt “reasonably good” about the prospects of moving the treaty during the lame-duck session and specifically cited Kyl as a possible supporter.
“We’ve been in a series of conversations with Sen. Kyl, whose top priority is making sure that the nuclear arsenal that we do have is modernized. I share that goal,” the president said.
A Senate GOP aide suggested that Kyl was put off by the administration asking for his support on the issue at the last minute. “Imagine if I asked you to the prom the night before? Would you say yes?” the aide said.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.