A motion to proceed on the New Stategic Arms Reduction Treaty passed the Senate 66-32 today, with nine Republicans voting in favor. Treaties require a 2/3 majority, i.e. 67 votes; one of the two Senators who missed the vote was Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh, who is expected to vote yes, so the treaty would seem on it’s face to have just enough support to pass. But a GOP staffer tells John Noonan “if [Reid] doesn’t give us votes on amendments I think a few could peel off of the gang of nine.”
Republicans are expected to offer several amendments to the treaty tomorrow, assuming they’re allowed to. Treaty proponents will argue that these are “treaty killers,” but that’s nonsense — the Russians are already preparing to amend the treaty on their end if the Senate alters it. Tweaking New START — deleting language in the preamble that seems to limit missile defense, for example — is a good idea, and it would be a mistake for Reid to try to jam the treaty through without doing so.