Day 3: Senate Minority Uses Filibuster to Hold Hostage START Arms Control Treaty

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Mary Boyle, (202) 736-5770

Day 3: Senate Minority Uses Filibuster to Hold Hostage START Arms Control Treaty

WASHINGTON - The START arms control treaty, largely negotiated during the
administration of George W. Bush but signed last year by President
Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart, Dimitri Medvedev, is yet
another hostage to a determined Senate minority's misuse of the
filibuster rule.

"Forty-two Republican senators have blocked action on START, an
agreement with implications for the survival of our planet, as a
bargaining chip in their negotiations on a tax cut deal with President
Obama," said Bob Edgar, Common Cause's president.

The START treaty restricts Russia and the U.S. to a maximum of 1,550
deployed warheads each, about 30 percent less than permitted under a
2002 agreement. It also would let the U.S. send inspectors back to
Russia to monitor that country's nuclear arsenal; they've been excluded
since a predecessor deal lapsed in December 2009. It has been endorsed
by secretaries of state from Henry Kissinger to Hillary Clinton.

"This misuse of the filibuster diminishes America's standing around the
world with friends and potential foes alike," Edgar said. "Left
unchecked, it will cripple the ability of future presidents to pursue
America's longstanding goal of a world free from the threat of nuclear
annihilation.

"The minority's stand is particularly perplexing given the support for
the treaty from former secretaries of state like Kissinger, James Baker
and Colin Powell," Edgar said, "as well as that of Sen. Richard Lugar,
the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a
respected voice on arms control issues on both sides of the partisan
aisle."
Edgar noted that the filibuster rule is designed to protect the Senate
minority's right to a robust debate and promote compromise on critical
issues.

"But today's minority has found a way to use the rule to stifle debate
and thwart the principle of majority rule," Edgar said. "The mere threat
of a filibuster has kept Democratic leaders from bringing the treaty to
the Senate floor."

This month, Common Cause is spotlighting how filibuster abuse is
hijacking the Congress and blocking action on vital national problems.
Common Cause is hosting a forum on filibuster reform on Wednesday, Dec. 15 at the National Press Club.

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Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.

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