Now that Senate Republicans are caving in for Obama's dangerous START treaty, the issue has finally begin grabbing the attention it deserves. Like many other conservatives, Nice Deb is incensed and perplexed by recent developments:
...for some inexplicable reason, [Republicans] are allowing the Obama administration to rush them into a yes vote on something that should take weeks to debate...The 11 Republicans who voted for cloture:Sens. Dick Lugar (Ind.), Bob Bennett (Utah), Scott Brown (Mass.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), and George Voinovich (Ohio).
It came as no big surprise that Republicans from liberal states came out to support START ― but what about the Republicans from conservative states? Like Nice Deb, I couldn't explain that. I'm from Tennessee, a conservative state, and BOTH of my Republican senators support START!
I did a little research and found that Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Bob Corker (R-TN) have at least 86 billion reasons to support START:
There are seven facilities in the country, including Y-12 in Oak Ridge [Tennessee], that deal with the nuclear arsenal and needed to be upgraded, Corker said, adding, "There is no question in my mind, if it weren't for the discussion of this treaty, we would not have the commitments that we have today on modernization."The Obama administration's updated nuclear defense plan calls for investing $86 billion at these facilities over the next decade, and UPF is a key part of the spending plan...The Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12 would be used for processing weapons-grade uranium that's taken out of old weapons, as well as refurbishing nuclear warhead parts for weapons that remain in the active arsenal...
As we rush to dismantle our nuclear weapons, Corker will reap the political benefits in Tennessee:
Not only will Y-12 be called upon to eventually dismantle components from the many nuclear warheads to be eliminated by New START, but the plant's modernization program -- including the proposed multibillion-dollar Uranium Processing Facility -- is expected to gain strong momentum from commitments made by President Barack Obama's administration during the drawn-out debate over the treaty with Russia.Senate Republicans pushed for more support for modernization of the nuclear weapons complex and improved maintenance of the U.S. nuclear arsenal during the New START proceedings, and U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee were among the Republicans who announced Tuesday that they would vote for ratification.Both of the Tennessee senators played important roles, with Corker on the front-lines of the debate as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Alexander exerting influence as the No. 3 Republican in the Senate. Both said modernization of U.S. nuclear capabilities was instrumental in their support.
In his speech on the Senate floor on Monday, Corker made the connection between the money and his vote very explicit:
One of the things that has concerned people on both sides of the aisle has been this whole issue of modernization...There are seven facilities that we have in this country that deal with our nuclear arsenal, and many of those are becoming obsolete and need to have needed investment......[we have worked] to make sure that the proper modernization of our nuclear arsenal takes place, and there is no question in my mind, if it weren’t for the discussion of this treaty, we would not have the commitments that we have today on modernization.......what this calls for is $86 billion worth of investment throughout the seven facilities throughout our country on nuclear armaments, and over $100 billion on the delivery mechanisms to ensure that these warheads are deliverable.
Corker assures us he has a rock solid deal with Barack Obama to get the money he wants:
Will the president actually in his budget ask Congress to ask for that money? I’d like to ask unanimous consent to have a letter from the president of the United States on December 20 to the appropriators saying that he, in fact, would ask for those funds in the budget that he puts forth in the next few months...I would say that we have sought and received commitments that otherwise we would not have received if it weren’t for discussion of this treaty, and the two are very related...[P]eople might say well, but there is no commitment... I have reasonable assurance that by the time this debate ends, that we will codify this commitment as part of the resolution of ratification.
Corker fails to explain how this deal will make America safer, why modernization should be held hostage to the START treaty, or why a lame duck Senate needs to make this decision.
I think it's reasonable to suspect that the other conservative-state Republicans might have similar reason$ similar to Corker's for supporting START. Thad Cochran and Johnny Isakson, I'm looking at you.