Despite growing criticism from Republicans on the issue, the White House insists today that President Obama is not backing down on his plans to seek the ratification of the new START treaty by the lame duck Senate.
“The president will continue to push this and believes the Senate should act on it before they go home,” said spokesman Robert Gibbs. The president had promised to seek the ratification in a recent meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, but the Senate has little time to debate such an issue before the next Senate is sworn in in January.
The ratification of the treaty requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate, and the Obama Administration believes that such a majority will be difficult with more Republicans having been elected this month. The ability to sell it to the outgoing Senate might be difficult as well, however, as even supportive Republicans may be reluctant to back a lame duck vote.
Some Republicans have criticized the deal, which would call for a moderate reduction in America’s nuclear weapons arsenal, on the grounds that it doesn’t give the US oversight to verify that Russia is reducing its own arsenal as agreed to. As previous START treaties have seen neither side reach the goals spelled out, however, it seems that even the approval of it wouldn’t guarantee the reduction of either nation’s nuclear arsenal.