The U.S. And Russia reportedly have about 90% of all the nuclear weapons in the world. So if this treaty makes sense for both sides, and shows a newfound sense of cooperation between the two nations that were Cold War enemies, why would there be dissention in the U.S. Senate?
That question can be answered a couple different ways. For one, there is a very divided and hostile political situation in Washington, D.C.; during the past two years the major pieces of legislation that Obama has pushed through have received not a single Republican vote. Obamas stimulus bill, $862 billion, that many economists say helped avoid a depression, did not get a single Republican vote. The biggest reform of Wall Street in the nations history passed without a single Republican vote, and likewise, the healthcare reform act, a “major overhaul” — that will provide 30 million Americans with health coverage and will prevent the health insurance industry from canceling policies just because a policyholder gets will — did not receive any votes from Republicans (Tapper, 2010). The reasons Republicans refused to cooperate with Obama and the Democrats are not clear, but it seems obvious that conservatives do not want to see Obama get any legislative victories.
That having been said, Obama and the Democrats believe they have secured enough Republican votes to get the two-thirds majority they need. Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana explained one key reason to pass this legislation.
Getting it passed will “enable American teams to return to Russia to collect data on the Russian arsenal and verify Russian compliance,” Lugar said (Yahoo News). The senator added, “These inspections greatly reduce the possibility that we will be surprised by Russian nuclear deployments or advancements.” Lugars remarks were apt and poignant because the U.S. weapons inspections of current Russian nuclear warheads ended last year, when the arms control treaty of 1991 ran out.
But not all Republicans were willing to go along with the reduction in warheads. Some wanted to wait until 2011, when the Republicans have more members in the Congress. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee called the effort to get the Senate to ratify the treaty “reckless.”
The Congress and the executive branch have a duty to the American people to cooperate and consult one another on important foreign policy treaties. Their duty is Constitutionally mandated, but it is also vitally important that the American people know the branches of government in Washington are cooperating when it comes to reducing the deadly threat of a nuclear war.
Tapper, Jake. “Passage of Major legislation Cant Stop Obamas Poll Numbers From Dropping.”
ABC News. Retrieved Dec. 17, 2010, from http://abcnews.go.com.
United States Senate. “Treaties.” Retrieved Dec. 17, 2010, from http://www.senate.gov.
Yahoo News. “Senate kicks off debate over U.S. — Russia arms treaty.” Retrieved Dec. 17,
2010, from http://news.yahoo.com. (2010)..