McConnell says he 'cannot support' nuclear arms treaty
December 19th, 2010
10:20 AM ET
4 years ago

McConnell says he 'cannot support' nuclear arms treaty

WASHINGTON (CNN) - 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.

Although he said the administration has told him they're committed to missile defense, he's worried about how Russia and European allies of the United States "view missile defense."

Regarding the timeline for a vote in the Senate, the minority leader said he assumes Democrats are looking to vote on the treaty before Christmas, but that it's unclear whether that will happen. Asked if enough Republicans would join with Democrats to ratify the treaty, he said: "We're going to find out here in the next few days."

The treaty, which has been a top priority for President Obama and Senate Democrats, would resume mutual inspections of U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals while limiting both nations to a certain number of warheads and launchers.

McConnell also said the Senate will pass a short-term measure that would fund the government until March. The chamber approved a similar measure Friday - the day the current resolution expired - to keep the government running until Tuesday night.

McConnell's appearance comes shortly after the White House and Congressional Republicans worked together to pass a tax package. The top Senate Republican said he found working with the president "just fine."

"We weren't sent here to do nothing," McConnell told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. "If the administration believes they need to go in a different direction and it mirrors the things that I and my members believe is good for the country, we're going to do it."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said he’s “deeply disappointed” by McConnell’s decision not to support START.

“We have spent the last four days on the Senate floor debating the treaty,” Reid said in a statement. “I know many senators, including my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, who share my belief that this treaty is too critical to our national security to delay.”

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. anthony

    The treaty was signed on April 8, 2010. Why do Republicans need more time to consider the treaty?

    December 19, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  2. Anonymous

    how did the american people put these people back in charge next year.it will soon backfire.

    December 19, 2010 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  3. Jeff in Virginia

    More time? They have had 8 months to read over this treaty. This is political brinksmanship at its finest. Pathetic.

    December 19, 2010 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  4. Joseph

    If you haven't read it by now, you never intended to read it. It's been available to all Americans if they just looked. Mitch, stop being disingenuous. You and the rest of the Republicans have had almost 8 months to read the treaty. You guys are just being obstinate for the sake of being obstinate. I can't wait to see what Boehner and McConnell do when they're in charge: a govt shutdown?

    December 19, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  5. Kim

    The GOP is trying to make Obama look bad. Won't work. We will remember in 2012 and vote for Obama. Not supporting the Dream bill and Start means defeat for the GOP in 2012.

    December 19, 2010 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  6. Philmon Edwards,Jr

    Mitch McConnel is a gigantic IDIOT. He is still playing politics with the safety of the world in question.

    December 19, 2010 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  7. John

    Figures.... These guys need to get a clue.

    December 19, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  8. annie s

    Apparently, saying NO to everything is such an all consuming job that it leaves Republicans unable to find the time to read a document that has been available to them since April. Not voting to pass this treaty – supported by Presidents and Secretaries of State of both political parties – is nothing more than political posturing. By putting this vote off, the Republicans are putting our national security in jeopardy.. But then again, what do you expect from people despicable enough to block a bill to help our 9/11 emergency responders.

    December 19, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  9. john killgannon

    I'm glad they won't support this bill which will only make us weaker and russia stronger

    December 19, 2010 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  10. the real ib

    Our safety is in question with this thing. There should be more studies made to make sure we aren't giving Russia an upper hand instead of just agreeing to something in a hurry. We've had to many bills pushed down our throats without even reading them before they are voted on. Just because a democrat came up with this thing doesn't make us more safe and I would be saying the same thing about republcians if they tried to push this or any other bill without proper studies.

    December 19, 2010 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  11. Anyway

    "I've decided I cannot support the treaty," McConnell said.

    You can't support better controlling and decreasing the most terrible man-made things on Earth? Of course, you must be Republican because you just don't get it. And you're their leader in the Senate, shame on you. To you and your Party, it's all about the money and keeping your friends rich.

    You should be ashamed to say you are a citizen of this country.

    December 19, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  12. John

    Believe there maybe more this than just B/W

    December 19, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  13. YRaj

    Although, I don't know enough about this treaty that compels me to think that it is so urgent, I see the Rep leadership unwilling to support something that would give Obama extra points.
    Everyone who is objective knows this isn't about more time to read it.
    We were already giving way too many perks to Reps anyway, to get their support. Obama needs to stay focused on the economy. That is where we need him to be.

    December 19, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  14. John

    Excellent. A lame duck session of Congress should not have the authority to pass this measure anyway. The democrats in the 111th Congress are like the drunks at the bar. They were asked polity to leave, they were then ordered to leave (by the voters), and they still are hanging out trying to do things they no longer should be doing. GET OUT. GO HOME. The voters turned you out in a historic election. Hint hint hint.

    Leave this business for the newly elected Congress. BTW, the dems still control 2/3 of the game so you can still address START in January since it is so important. What did ole Tony say above? "The treaty was signed on April 8, 2010. Why do Republicans need more time to consider the treaty?" How bout this, if it was signed on April 8, why does it HAVE to be passed in the next week? Why can't it wait an extra 2 weeks for the new Senate to be seated?

    Get real.

    December 19, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  15. GI Joe

    And I don't support McTurtle. NEXT.

    December 19, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  16. TT

    This treaty is a joke. Everything the Russians were going to have to get rid of anyway because of age is what is mandidated for the US to give up as well. This treaty is complety one sided to the Russians and it doesn't even cover tactical nukes, which IS THE REAL DANGER IN THE WORLD. In Moscow, they are laughing at this President.

    Well, really, they are laughing all over the world at this President's incredible weakness. (Iran, N Korea, Russia, China, etc etc etc)

    December 19, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  17. Alert Citizen

    McConnell gone WILD!

    December 19, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  18. Four and The Door

    Don't approve just to get something approved. We expect our Senators to do better than that. If it turns out to be a poor deal for America, send it back to be renegotiated. We are not desperate enough to have a lopsided treaty crammed down our throats. But if it turns out to be a fair deal, approve it and move forward.

    December 19, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  19. Jeff in Virginia

    @John- you know, it would have been GREAT if the Republicans had followed your advice, and not impeached Bill Clinton during a lame duck session.

    December 19, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  20. KatR

    "If the administration believes they need to go in a different direction and it mirrors the things that I and my members believe is good for the country, we're going to do it."

    Don't know about you but this statement clearly communicates to me that McConnell etal will not even consider any new ideas for solving old problems. To them...the GOP ideology is the only correct path for America and they expect Obama to accept it or be defeated in 2012. Two years is a long time in American politics. We shall see Senator....we shall see.

    December 19, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  21. Tom

    Great example; 111th Congress are the drunks are the bar that won't leave. they are kind of like the drunk uncle that won't leave and keeps telling you they know better than everyone else in the family. Thankfully, the lights will be turned out on the bar after last call and the worst Congress this country has ever fielded soon will go home! Phew!

    Can't wait for 2012, get rid of the demorcratic Senate majority next.

    December 19, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  22. Mickey, NY

    john killgannon said:

    [I'm glad they won't support this bill which will only make us weaker and russia stronger]

    Any facts to back up this obviously emotional statement, or is it just your opinion?

    The Republicans had this Treaty since the Spring of 2010, and that haven't read it yet? McConnell is nothing but a tool. It shows that Republican politicians are weak on National Security.

    There are too many armchair politicians out there that think this is a game. There is nothing in this Treaty that hasn't already been hammered out and approved in previous Treaties that have been approved in DAYS...not MONTHS.

    This is fact.

    December 19, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  23. Sgt, Joe

    Yes, we certainly do expect Senators to do better than t his. They've had plenty of time to read this treaty! This is purely blatant stalling tactic aimed to stop Obama from doing the right things for this country and in this case, the world. This old fool should be ashamed of himself, but hey, he's proven he has no shame. We pay these people to get things done; is it too much to ask them to read? All they've done for two years is sit on their thumbs and obstruct. The country suffers and they claim to be patriots. Who voted to bring these old stodgy fools back into the fold?

    December 19, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  24. Reggie from LA

    "I've decided". I've decided? Quite frankly that's the way it's always been since the Obama election. I've decided that I will not agree with anything he says. I will get my minions to sign letters and pledges throughout the coming years to ensure we will eventually prevail over evil Obama. Y'all keep repeating, "evil Obama" It's about the wealthy WINNING...always. When have you heard them come up with something beneficial to YOU (specifically), not your children and grandchildren or the Constitution? Don't lie to yourself. There has been nothing. Think about it. When the children come into adulthood, they will be grayed and gone or dead and gone and you wont be able to hold them accountable. You will see that you have become no more than suckers in the end. Congratulations!!

    December 19, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  25. Debra

    They had 8 freaking months to read the start treaty, they have filibuster everything that President Obama has tried to accomplish. How much time do you need, until January when your stupid party take over so you can reach your #1 goal to destroy President Obama so he can look bad on the World Stage? This is proof that the Republicans do not care about our country, to make the President look bad for political purpose is to weaken America on the world stage, is this what you idiots want.

    December 19, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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