James M. Lindsay writes over on CFR.org on Obama’s full court press to get START ratified by the lame duck legislature, echoing the experience of Woodrow Wilson (almost). Not looking so good.
The problem is votes. The White House doesn’t have them. Reaching the magic 67-vote mark requires picking up eight Republican votes. That assumes of course that the Democrats hold together, which may be a courageous assumption. Republican senators on the fence about the treaty will face pressure from some quarters of their party to vote no, and little pressure to vote yes.
So while the Senate might vote during the lame-duck session, the outcome could be different from what the administration wants. Just recall the fate of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
The lesson is that in a government of co-equal branches the Senate doesn’t have to take the president’s medicine. President Wilson learned that the hard way. Here’s some historical irony for you. Tomorrow marks the 91st anniversary of the Senate’s rejection of the Treaty of Versailles.