The big talk in the foreign policy community has been that the new START Treaty might be one of the biggest senate moves before the midterm elections. START is a treaty that replaces an old agreement on arms reduction with Russia. What will START do? It will force countries who signed the treaty to reduce their nuclear weapons stockpiles by 1,550. This is not that big of reduction since it was 2,200 before. The treaty was signed in the spring of this year as one of the largest foreign dignitary gatherings in Washington since the founding of the U.N. It is part of Obama's plan to hit the reset button on U.S.-Russia relations. Now that the treaty exists, it must be ratified by the senate. It needs a 67 senators to pass the bill. Currently, on 58 senators are on board for it.
What are the arguments against START? For one thing, it does reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles which people will always claim will hurt national defense. The big argument being pushed now is that there is nothing in the treaty or any individual promises from Obama that the U.S. will improve the nuclear stockpile it already has. Meaning, they will agree to reduce nuclear weapons if the current ones are in good technological shape. The other argument is that the treaty does not go far enough. What liberals really want is the Comprehensive Test Ban Treat (CTBT) signed, which would stop nuclear testing completely. It failed under Clinton and Obama has talked about reviving the debate, but so far it is a no go. So, he is stuck with START.
Will the treaty pass? My guess is yes. Democrats will find ways to rally the votes and some Republicans, Richard Lugar being one of them, is very much on board with it. Also, Russian relations and the START treaty is one of Obama's biggest achievements so far. If he fails to pass it, then he will definitely hurt in the midterm elections. Not that foreign policy is the biggest issue by now, or ever really is, but it will be added to the voter list of complaints. If the Democrats cannot pass the bill now, then they will wait until the lameduck session after the midterm elections to pass it when the pressure is off. Either way, the START Treaty will probably pass.