it is disheartening to read the news that President Obama and Majority Leader Reid are intent on ramming the START Treaty through the lame duck session of a discredited Congress. Action on the treaty is imminent. Today at NRO Andrew McCarthy summarizes the substantive arguments against passage of the treaty.
Consideration of the treaty in this lame duck session of Congress raises a procedural issue as well. Isn’t it fundamentally illegitimate to ram a treaty through the lame end of a lame duck session? McCarthy doesn’t address that question, but there is something deeply disturbing about the Democrats’ shenanigans on this point as well.
Why not wait for the Senate to convene next month in the session including newly elected members? Apparently because that would complicate passage of the treaty.
Matthew Spalding and Anna Leutheuser review the record since the passage in 1933 of the Twentieth Amendment limiting lame duck sessions. Spalding and Leutheuser write: “The State Department maintains a comprehensive listing of all agreements and treaties currently in force. While considerable research would be required to establish definitively that no treaty has ever been ratified by a lame duck session, it is of note that current research efforts have yet to find any such treaty.”
Spalding and Leutheuser therefore conclude: “The ratification of New START by a lame duck Senate would not only ignore the message sent by voters in November but also break a significant precedent, consistent with the principle of consent, maintained by Presidents and Congresses since the passage of the Twentieth Amendment in 1933.”
In short, what Obama et al. are doing is wrong. It is akin to the procedural shenanigans in which they engaged to ram Obamacare through the Senate after the election of Scott Brown earlier this year. Someone really ought to call them on it.
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