“There’s all these things that everybody wants to do — everybody has to do,” she said. “I want to make sure that we do justice to this treaty.”
If all the Senators who caucus with the Democrats maintain their support for START, nine Republican votes would be needed to achieve ratification. Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Dick Lugar (Ind.) is the only Republican who has announced his full and unconditional support for the treaty.
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) delivered a hearty endorsement of START on the floor Thursday, but his office clarified that he will only vote to support ratification after the government spending bill is addressed. The Senate was scheduled to move to consideration of the omnibus Thursday evening, but with Democrats and Republicans at odds over spending, it remains unknown when the matter will be resolved.
Meanwhile, Sen. Ron Wyden announced that he is having surgery for early-stage prostate cancer Monday and will be recuperating until the 112th Congress convenes Jan. 5. The Oregon Democrat’s absence should not affect the number of Republican votes needed for ratification, however, because only 66 votes will be needed instead of 67.
Democrats spent much of Thursday attempting to undercut GOP arguments for pushing START to next year.
To claims that GOP Senators-elect should have an opportunity to vote on ratification, Democrats said that would only lead to requests for further delays so that the 2011 freshman class could get up to speed. To claims that the lame duck allowed inadequate time to consider START, Democrats said Republicans have had a year to review treaty negotiations and the completed document.
Democrats also said Republicans’ substantive problems with START were unfounded. Democrats pointed to a host of former Republican officials who support START, including ex-diplomats and secretaries of state. Casey even tried to tie ratification of START to the struggling economy, saying that during a time of such financial insecurity, progress on a key foreign policy matter would give Americans a much-needed emotional boost.
“Ratification of this treaty would give people some peace of mind,” the Pennsylvania Democrat said.