Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has indicated that he is going to force the Senate clerk to read the entire New START treaty, which is likely to waste an entire day of Senate floor time. One would have thought that DeMint — who is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which has oversight of the treaty and which has held 20 hearings on it — would have read the 400-page document already.
This move, however, is just the latest GOP attempt to delay and obstruct ratification of the START treaty, and it comes on the back of Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) threat to force the Senate clerk to read the entire 2,000-page omnibus appropriations bill.
But even as Republican senators are forcing procedural delays, GOP Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) is attacking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for “disrespecting” Christians for indicating that the Senate will keep working through the holidays to complete the its work. Kyl exclaimed:
It is impossible to do all of the things that the majority leader laid out without doing — frankly, without disrespecting the institution and without disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians and the families of all of the Senate, not just the senators themselves but all of the staff.
Apparently, it is acceptable for the American people and the U.S. military to have to work the week before Christmas, but unacceptable for Senator Kyl to do so. As Matt Yglesias observed, “Obviously it’s unfortunate any time the precious members of the US Senate need to do actual work, but aversion to working is traditionally the reason that the Senate’s many tools of obstruction have been used sparingly. But if Senators want to engage in policies of maximum delay, then countermeasures of maximum work are the only realistic response.”
On Twitter, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) writes that he has offered to help DeMint in his quest to require a full reading of the START treaty.
,On the Senate floor moments ago, Reid said START “has been around since April or May; even a slow reader could finish reading every word of that many many differrent times. … What a colossal waste of time.” Watch it:
,White House press secretary Robert Gibbs lambasted DeMint’s tactic as “a new low in putting political stunts ahead of our national security.” After noting that the treaty underwent nearly 20 Senate hearings and “has been available to every member of the Senate and the public for more than eight months,” Gibbs added, “It is the height of hypocrisy to complain that there is not enough time to consider this treaty, while wasting so much time reading aloud a document that was submitted to the Senate months ago.”