“We have now spent 5 days having a very good debate on New START and proposed amendments. That is as much time as the Senate spent on START I, and more than it spent on START II and the Moscow Treaty combined, but we are looking forward to continuing the debate this week,” Kerry said in a statement Sunday evening. “This is a big test of the Senate because this treaty is about our national security, not our politics. Our country and the world have watched a spirited exchange of views in the best traditions of the Senate, and there is more to come as we work to address senators’ concerns.”
Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin said the treaty “is ready to be voted on.”
“We’ve had it for months in front of us, we’ve had hundreds of questions answered,” the Michigan Democrat said.
The Senate is scheduled to open at 10 a.m. Monday for more debate on START, then proceed at 2 p.m. to a closed session in the old Senate chamber, presumably to discuss START in a secure manner. The regular debate on START is set to resume on the floor whenever the closed session ends and may continue late into Monday evening.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is expected to be on Capitol Hill on Monday to brief Senators on START.
Kerry continued Sunday to politely push the Republicans to drop their opposition to START. However, the Foreign Relations chairman began to show signs that he might be losing his patience.
“We have bent over backwards to meet the concerns of our colleagues in a completely nonpolitical, apolitical, totally bipartisan, substantive way that meets the security concerns of the country,” Kerry said in remarks on the Senate floor. “I hope we can find reciprocity with respect to that kind of action here in the United States Senate.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.