Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The nuclear option

Historically, foreign affairs has been the purview of the Executive Branch. But as we've seen in recent days, Republicans in Congress have so qualms about negotiating with a foreign leader, and they have no interest in allowing the president a victory, even one that enhances our security and is supported by the Joint Chiefs.

Over many months of negotiations, the administration committed to spending $80 billion to do that over the next 10 years, and on Friday offered to chip in $4.1 billion more over the next five years. As a gesture of commitment, the White House had made sure extra money for modernization was included in the stopgap spending resolution now keeping the government operating, even though almost no other program received an increase in money.

All told, White House officials counted 29 meetings, phone calls, briefings or letters involving Mr. Kyl or his staff. They said they thought they had given him everything he wanted, and were optimistic about completing a deal this week, only to learn about his decision on Tuesday from reporters.

Mr. Kyl said he informed the Senate Democratic leader that there was not enough time to resolve all the issues during the lame-duck session that opened this week. “When majority leader Harry Reid asked me if I thought the treaty could be considered in the lame-duck session, I replied I did not think so given the combination of other work Congress must do and the complex and unresolved issues related to Start and modernization,” Mr. Kyl said in a written statement.

Mr. Kyl declined a request to be interviewed. Asked if the senator’s statement was meant to close the door to a lame-duck vote, his spokesman, Ryan Patmintra said: “Correct. Given the pending legislative business and outstanding issues on the treaty and modernization, there doesn’t appear to be enough time.”

Forget about the filibuster, this truly is "the nuclear option." It's a dangerous precedent and it's an even more dangerous undermining of our credibility.



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