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Twisting The Knife

Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, John Thune of South Dakota, Christopher Bond of Missouri, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, George LeMieux of Florida and Mark Kirk of Illinois have called a press conference for 2:45 p.m. today to announce their opposition to ratification of the treaty during the lame-duck session.

Sens. Alexander and Kirk had given favorable signals about the treaty, and White House officials considered Sen. LeMieux a likely vote. ~The Wall Street Journal [1]

I suppose it’s still remotely possible that the White House could come up with nine Republican votes, but if they were counting on Alexander, Kirk, and LeMieux it appears that they were badly mistaken or misled in declaring that they had the votes for ratification. There was no good reason to think Kirk was going to vote for it this year. As conditions for his support, he had been demanding documents and briefings, including the negotiating record that the administration has not made available to anyone. LeMieux is reportedly interested in running for the other Florida Senate seat in 2012, and presumably his opposition today is connected to his desire to satisfy movement conservatives before he leaves office. Alexander was probably going to jump whichever way Kyl did, and Kyl’s position on this had become pretty clear weeks ago.

The nine would have to include Lugar, Corker, Isakson, Bennett, Voinovich, Collins, Snowe, and Gregg, plus one more. Corker has expressed doubts about ratifying the treaty during this session. Snowe’s public support is conditional and hinges on having “enough time for debate and amendments.” Scott Brown has so far shown no signs of being in favor of the treaty. Now that Kyl is openly organizing against the treaty, there is not much reason to expect McCain or Graham to vote for it. They have made it clear that they are going to defer to Kyl’s lead. Delaying the treaty now will almost certainly mean that the treaty will not be ratified [2].

Update: On cue, McCain says [3] that he doesn’t want to vote on the treaty this year. DeMint has also decided [4] to drop his plan to force a reading of the treaty. This is probably because he realizes that his delaying tactics are no longer necessary.

Second Update: DeMint has called off having the treaty read aloud [5], but Reid has delayed the start of debate until tomorrow as a result [6], so DeMint’s stunt already had its desired effect.

Third Update: Looking over the roll call of the motion to proceed [7], which passed 66-32, I see that Corker and Isakson voted no. It seems improbable that they would vote for ratification if they didn’t even want to have a debate in this session. McCain has said that he doesn’t want to vote on the treaty this year, which leaves just eight potential supporters on the Republican side.

Fourth Update: According to The Hill [8], Bob Bennett was present at Kyl’s press conference this afternoon:

Bennett appeared at Kyl’s press conference, where he said, “I would hope that we could reach accord and I would hope that it would be next year [bold mine-DL].”

If Bennett is against voting on the treaty this year, I don’t see how the treaty passes.

Fifth Update: Kyl’s press conference, which also included Bennett, Cornyn and Johanns, can be found here [9] at C-SPAN. The Senate Democratic press conference is here [10]. Josh Rogin’s summary is here [11].

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2 Comments To "Twisting The Knife"

#1 Comment By Lev On December 15, 2010 @ 2:36 pm

Evan Bayh didn’t vote on the treaty today, so if he votes yes on ratification, that’s 67 votes.

Over at my blog, I theorized that McCain’s support of the treaty is based on a desire to hurt Romney’s standing by passing a treaty that Mitt has attacked. I don’t have real evidence of this, though I’ve long sensed that McCain hated Romney due to their exchanges in the 2008 primaries.

I guess we’ll see what happens.

#2 Comment By David Lindsay On December 15, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

You fools. They are still going to come after you in the primaries.