Lugar becomes center of gravity on New START

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. , conferring on Capitol Hill, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2009.

From Josh Rogin, the Cable:  As the New START nuclear reductions treaty with Russia finally comes to a committee vote this Thursday, the focus is shifting from Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA), who has been quarterbacking the Senate ratification process, to his Republican counterpart Richard Lugar (R-IN) , who is attempting to negotiate a compromise between the Obama administration and Senate Republicans.

Last week, Kerry circulated his resolution of ratification for the New START treaty, published exclusively by The Cable. Kerry’s version was subsequently panned by Republicans for not addressing several of their concerns.

But when it comes time to vote, senators will likely be working off a new resolution being crafted this week by Lugar. That’s because Lugar’s version, a draft of which was also obtained exclusively by The Cable, has much more chance of getting GOP committee members’ support. …

"Lugar’s draft does a decent job of addressing about 80 percent of the issues that can be addressed," said one GOP senate aide working on the issue. "Some issues can’t be addressed because you can’t amend the treaty."

Specifically, Lugar’s version includes new or expanded sections addressing several issues of concern for GOP senators, including the sharing of missile telemetry data with the Russians, U.S. plans to develop global strike capabilities, the treaty’s potential impact on missile defense, and the powers of the bilateral commission that will oversee treaty implementation.

GOP aides also noted that Lugar’s resolution is more comprehensive (22 pages to Kerry’s 6) and is written in legislative style, which makes it much easier to amend as it makes its way through the Senate.  (photo: AP)

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