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. Jeepers

    It concerns me that someone like Sarah Palin, who had to be heavily coached on foreign and domestic policy (and even geography) just for a debate is able to get as close to Washington as she did. What is the education level on these things of our lawmakers? Because...they are making decisions about pretty important stuff.

    December 19, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  2. meowth

    This is nothing but political posturing on the part of the Republicans. If McConnell and his cronies had any real interest in national security the passing of this treaty wouldn't be questionable. Finish this now, because in the next congress it'll be a lot harder to get 2/3's senators to support it.

    December 19, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  3. Cam

    The only way to fix things in this country is for everyone to vote. Vote out the two current parties and put real independent leadership that represents the moderate majority.

    December 19, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  4. BKrause

    Translation: McConnell and most of the GOP really don't want a safer America and world. It's better to nurture an adversarial climate, create tension, and to deny peaceful rationale, especially at Christmas. What's even more remarkable, the public votes for this.

    December 19, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  5. John

    Jeff in Virginia: Yep, lame duck sessions should not have authority to do any major policy. But at least in that case, there was not a coming power change in Congress.

    If Bill wouldn't have committed purjury, wouldn't have come to that. Typical liberal, never blame the guilty only the results.

    December 19, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  6. Gil

    McConnell is the most inarticulate southern I've ever been forced to see or listen too. He comes across as an uneducated southerner and his stands show that it isn't just an image it is the truth!

    December 19, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  7. jen

    This is absurd political drama. Mitch ought to consider another job if he is unable to get to a document that has been on his desk for eight months.

    December 19, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  8. Wzrd1

    Listen, Spenditmore, you've had since April to read that thing. If you couldn't manage it by now, perhaps you should resign and take a remedial reading course.
    Because, quite frankly, I'm getting REAL sick and tired of the party of NO.

    December 19, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  9. tonyb

    McConell is such a POS. This is nothing but another shot at Obama. Pure politics, nothing else. CALL THEM ON IT DEMS_ GROW A FEW PAIR.

    December 19, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  10. Wzrd1

    Screw it. Can't put anything up without awaiting moderation. No profanity, no vulgar terms.
    Perhaps we should begin to vote with our guns.

    December 19, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  11. Marcus

    John – How can we 'Get real' if you show us how disconnected with REALity you are?
    The treaty was signed in April 8th, the Republican minority in Senate did everything (filibuster) that they could in order to avoid the treaty to pass, and you not only applaud it with a Cold War argument (and it was a lame one back then) but also wants us to wait more time for this guy to earn his pay?
    Get real yourself.

    December 19, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  12. stop yelling

    He a raciest and dont like a black man in the whate house thats why he wont pass any thing typiicle southern boy

    December 19, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. American

    i.e. Sen. McConnell will not support our national security...

    The US Senate has ratified these treaties in 2 Days in the past, and Republican senators are somehow now claiming over 8 Months and 2 Weeks are not enough time?! Give me a break.

    Quit playing childish games when our national security is stake. Ratify START Now!

    December 19, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  14. John

    So what's new? The GOP has ALWAYS favored BIG BUSINESS over peace! War is good ("profitable") for big business. Hence, the GOP will never do anything to promote peace!

    December 19, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  15. Wenton

    Quid pro quo Sen. McConnell...you got your tax extension, time to back President Obama on START.

    December 19, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  16. Barry from Wisconsin

    It appears that the "party of no" is once again, obstructing, rather than moving the country forward. START II continues to reduce nuclear warheads in both the USA and Russia. The treaty also provides for inspection – something that has not been done for quite awhile. The treaty is important to try to continue to improve relations with Russia. Te USA and Russia will still have enough nuclear warheads to destroy life on the Earth,

    Grow up, Republicans, and try to support the country, not your own "back to the cold war" mentality.

    December 19, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  17. chris24

    getting rid of mitch mcconnell should be america's #1 priority.
    this guy is such a two-faced(if he had a face) loser

    he is exactly what we don't need. a career politico who should
    go out into the real world and get a job.

    way to go kentucky. two moron senators. maybe you'd like to drop
    out of the good ol US?

    December 19, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  18. Democratinny

    The American people voted McConnell and his cronies in. This is what they get. McConnell is pathetic.

    December 19, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  19. RandyZ

    If Obama was serious about protecting this country, he would line the Southern border with troops to prevent an invasion that is occuring at this very moment!

    December 19, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  20. smasher

    just pass the bill. 8 months is more than enough to read a bill. why are these republicans so slow?

    All they know is how to filibuster

    December 19, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  21. Liberal4Obama

    McConnell is being paid to oppose START. Everything republicans do is for their OWN benefit not the country.

    December 19, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  22. RICKFROMPA

    We're simply back to being the Party of "NO". This is going to be an interesting two years in the House of Representatives. I thought that those in the House were suppoesed to be representing US!

    December 19, 2010 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  23. Mike

    Even when they know this is important for the American people and the people of the entire World, the Republicans would block this rather than give President Obama another apparent victory as they see it. The party of No are beyond contempt.

    December 19, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  24. Dave

    Thankfully, the election solved one problem in Congress and got rid of Nancy as the speaker. Of course, the left was too stupid and re-hred her as their leader. 2012 will bring an end to the left's control of the Senate, and if the right can field any candidate OTHER than Palin, they will re-capture the White House too.

    Finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel. (but it could be a train.)

    December 19, 2010 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  25. jean2009

    Basically the American people are unhinged absent minded fools. Do they really think the people who created the mess are going to fix it?

    December 19, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
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