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House Conservatives to Senate: Don’t START in the Lame Duck

In light of the ongoing debate in the Senate over whether to approve the Obama Administration’s New START treaty with Russia, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and I recently sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) asking that they delay action until the 112th Congress can convene and review the treaty.

While we recognize that it is the role of the Senate to give advice and consent to the ratification of this treaty, it will be the role of those of us in the House of Representatives to ultimately appropriate the funding necessary to modernize our nuclear weapons complex, stockpile and arsenal, as well as to conduct oversight of the implementation of the treaty.

In light of this role, we outlined in our letter specific concerns with the treaty as it is currently written:

It is our understanding that, in the latest version of its program for modernizing the nuclear weapons complex and stockpile, the Administration is proposing to spend approximately $84 billion over ten years, which will have to be approved by the House. In advancing this proposal, the House could find itself in a circumstance where meeting its legislative responsibilities in the area of national security is made more difficult by the entry into force of New START.

Most importantly, many House Republicans believe this treaty may weaken the ability of the U.S. to defend itself against missile attacks. This is largely because the Administration has made indications to Russia that in the context of this treaty the U.S. will not pursue missile defense options that could affect the strategic balance between the two states.

The Administration has also proven to show a lack of transparency during this process by refusing to provide senators with the full negotiating record or specific details of the Tauscher-Rybakov discussions. The Reagan Administration provided updates during the original negotiations to staff on the Arms Control Observer group. We believe Senators should not be a rubber stamp for the Administrations diplomatic agenda and should demand access for the treaty negotiation record. Furthermore, the hearing process for New START in the Senate has been biased. The overwhelming majority of the witnesses were treaty proponents.

We have clear concerns that, should the Senate approve this treaty in a premature manner, it would impede the ability of the House and the Senate to draft future defense measures that will meet the nation’s essential security requirements. The threat of rogue nations like Iran and North Korea make it imperative that we not ratify a treaty absent the necessary review and scrutiny that would be afforded by permitting the Senate to debate this treaty in the 112th Congress.

For the full text of the Franks/Price letter, please click here.

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) is Chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) and Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) is Chairman of the RSC’s National Security Working Group and Chair of the House Missile Defense Caucus.

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