Monday, November 22, 2010

New Congress, New START - Lame Duck Congress, No START

Philip J. Crowley, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, has a reputation for sending out entertaining tweets. But if I were a Senate staffer, I would not be entertained by his latest one:

It is time to ratify New #START. We have negotiated a strong treaty. We have held hearings & answered all the questions. No reason to wait.

No reason at all, unless you think a lame duck Congress should not commit the USA to anything of significance that the next Congress - the one that just got elected and therefore better represents the U.S. public - will be stuck with. That's a political-constitutional matter, and I'm surprised Mr. Crowley thinks it's within his portfolio.

Or unless you think there is something wrong, separation-of-powers-wise, with a State Department official publicly lobbying Senator Kyl over legislative business. Isn't that what the White House political staff is for?

Even if you think the New START treaty is the greatest thing since wireless internet, it would be an offense against representative self-government to ratify it with a Senate that has one foot out the door. It was signed back in April, so it's waited this long already. It can wait until January.

All the administration lobbying for lame duck ratification starts to look like fear that ratification might not pass in the next Senate. And if there is even a small chance that is so, then a lame duck session would be constitutionally outrageous.


Anonymous said...

"an offense against representative self-government"

Not buying this. We elected this Congress, too, and they're still on the clock.

TSB said...

We just elected a new one. Trying to slip this treaty past the new Congress out of fear they won't sign it as-is, ought to produce a bipartisan outrage. A lame duck Congress has no business doing anything.