Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tells CNN’s Candy Crowley that he has decided to oppose the START treaty in the lame-duck session. His decision, McConnell explains, come from both a sense that the implications of the treaty are unclear and that Democrats are trying to “jam” ratification rather than build a case for it:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky voiced opposition Sunday to the New START – a nuclear arms treaty with Russia – saying that members of his party need more time to consider the legislation.
“I’ve decided I cannot support the treaty,” McConnell said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I think if they’d taken more time with this, rushing it right before Christmas strikes me as trying to jam us.”
He said trying to get a vote before Christmas was not the best way to “get support of people like me,” and that GOP senators are “uneasy” about the legislation.
McConnell’s objections are not limited to procedural hastiness, either, as the transcript shows:
The McCain amendment yesterday, regarding missile defense was defeated. And I know the administration actually sent a letter up yesterday, indicating they’re committed to missile defense.
But an equally important question is, how do the Russians view missile defense? And how do our European allies view missile defense? And I’m concerned about it. I think if they’d taken more time with this — rushing it right before Christmas, it strikes me as trying to jam us.
I think if they’d taken more time — and I know that the members of the Foreign Relations Committee spent a lot of time on this, but the rest of us haven’t. And so all of the sudden we’re once again trying to rush things right here before Christmas Eve. I think that was not the best way to get the support of people like me.
McConnell also spoke about the repeal of ObamaCare, calling it “the single worst piece of legislation in my time in the Senate:
I’m hoping we will receive from the House of Representatives a full repeal of “Obama-care.” It will be hard to get that through the Senate, but we will be working to try to get a vote on that, and hope that among those who have had maybe second thoughts in the Senate, including the 23 Democrats who are up for re-election in ’12, there will be some openness to revisiting what I think was the single worst piece of legislation in my time in the Senate.
The Minority Leader also told Crowley that the Senate will produce a pure continuing resolution, implicitly rejecting a “minibus” that ties funding of several agencies together. McConnell said that Democrats failed to push through even one of the normal 12 appropriations bills during the regular session, the first time that has ever happened, and that any kind of omnibus under those circumstances is unacceptable. He wants a full debate on a proper set of appropriations, complete with amending opportunities, which the omnibus and the “minibus” skipped.
On START, McConnell’s announced position will probably make it more difficult to get the seven or eight GOP votes Reid needs at a minimum. The defeat of McCain’s amendment on missile defense makes that even less likely. Still, it won’t be impossible, and Reid will surely keep pushing it until the clock runs out on this session of Congress. Ironically, he’s more likely to get ratification in the next session when he can offer more time for debate and amendments, and when it won’t appear that the treaty is getting jammed down GOP throats.
Update: The AP is also reporting now that the budget deal will be a pure CR that lasts until March.
The Senate’s top Republican says he and the Democratic leader have agreed on a spending measure to keep the government running through March.
Passing the bill — known as a “continuing resolution” — would prevent the government from running out of money for daily operations and forcing a shutdown.
This report is based off of CNN’s interview, though, so the actual deal announcement still bears watching.