What: All Issues : War & Peace : Nuclear Weapons : On an amendment that would have required the U.S. Senate to review rulings made by a commission established to resolve disputes (relating to a nuclear weapons reduction treaty) between Russia and the U.S. if those rulings “create new rights or obligations for the United States.” This amendment was offered to a resolution accompanying a nuclear weapons reduction treaty. (2010 senate Roll Call 295)
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On an amendment that would have required the U.S. Senate to review rulings made by a commission established to resolve disputes (relating to a nuclear weapons reduction treaty) between Russia and the U.S. if those rulings “create new rights or obligations for the United States.” This amendment was offered to a resolution accompanying a nuclear weapons reduction treaty.
senate Roll Call 295     Dec 21, 2010
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This was a vote on an amendment by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) that would have required the U.S. Senate to review rulings made by a commission established to resolve disputes (relating to a nuclear weapons reduction treaty) between Russia and the U.S if those rulings “create new rights or obligations for the United States.” This amendment was offered to a “resolution of ratification” on this treaty between the U.S. and Russia (known as the “New START” treaty). Resolutions of ratification allow the Senate to offer explanations and interpretations of provisions in the treaties they approve. The amendment was not offered to the treaty itself, and thus would not necessarily have forced Russia and the United States to renegotiate the terms of the agreement.

Specifically, the New Start treaty provided that the “Bilateral Consultative Commission” (BCC) would resolve future disputes arising from the treaty. Under Wicker’s amendment, the commission’s rulings would have been subject to approval by the U.S Senate if they threatened to “create new rights or obligations for the United States.”

Wicker urged support for his amendment: “This amendment rises out of concerns over the Bilateral Consultative Commission known as the BCC….the BCC has the authority to resolve questions relating to compliance, agree to additional measures to improve the viability and effectiveness of the treaty, and discuss other issues raised by either party [the U.S. and Russia]. This clearly is very broad authority given to the BCC….The bottom line is this: if it is determined that a substantive change has been made by a decision of the BCC, then that change should be subject to the advice and consent [approval] of the Senate.”
 
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) argued the amendment was potentially harmful because the requirement that BCC rulings be subject to Senate approval could delay the treaty’s implementation: “…This could be harmful to American interests. Here is how. It would actually require that agreements we want to move on and that act in our national security interest would be delayed and referred to the Senate, and we all know how long that could take…they have to come to the Senate to become hostage to one senator or another senator's other agenda…it is a dangerous amendment because it forces us to delay for months the implementation of technical agreements that our [nuclear weapons] inspectors ought to be allowed to implement without delay.”

The Senate rejected this amendment by a vote of 34-59. Voting “yea” were 34 Republicans. All 55 Democrats present and 4 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the Senate rejected an amendment that would have required the U.S. Senate to review rulings made by a commission established to resolve disputes between Russia and the U.S. if those rulings “create new rights or obligations for the United States.”

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