Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Senator Lisa Murkowski committed today to vote for START, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, with Russia. The new Start over
nuclear arms is one of President Obama’s top priorities for the waning session of Congress, and today enough Republicans signaled they will vote “yea” to reach the needed two-thirds vote of the Senate.
Murkowski was one of 11 Republicans Tuesday to join with all Democrats and vote to end debate and move forward to the final vote later this week.
“I have come to conclusion that I will support ratification of the START Treaty,” Murkowski said. “I was looking at this from a more perhaps parochial perspective.”
Murkowski says her concern was about the Treaty’s impact to missile defense, especially the ground-based system at Fort Greely in Delta
Junction. Other Republicans have warned that the START Treaty could limit the US’s missile defense options.
But conversations with President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and a letter from the head of Missile Defense, Lieutenant
General Patrick O’Reilly assuring Murkowski that Fort Greely is important to them convinced her.
“Had good discussions with General O’Reilly yesterday and then again received this letter this morning that gives me some assurance that
commitment is not only there to future of Fort Greely and Alaska’s roll in the National Missile Defense System but to the broader picture
of MD as a whole,” Murkowski said.
Alaska Senator Mark Begich says he’s long been convinced that the Obama Administration changed its tune from when it first came into
office and wanted to reduce the missile capability at Fort Greely, and indeed supports the system. He sits on the Armed Services Committee, which held a series of hearings about it. Begich says Republicans should look at the record.
“So I think there’s some that are finding as this discussion goes on, they’re arguments are just not founded,” Begich said. “We had Gen. O’Reilly at the Armed Services Committee and these are the questions we asked him.”
“And so I was convinced a long time ago… I think a lot of people… the record was out there. Secretary Gates, Secretary Clinton, Gen. OReilly, all said over and over again there is no negative impact on the MD system.”
Senator Begich accuses Murkowski’s Republican colleagues of playing politics over the treaty.
“I think there are some that are looking for an excuse for more politics than really getting something done,” Begich said.
Since the Senate just got the 60 votes needed for cloture (at 11:3o am AST), or cutting off debate on the floor, it can move ahead on a final
vote on START as early as Wednesday.
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