"THE WEEKLY WRAP" with Diane W. Collins

The Lame Duck Ends with Short-term Funding & Pretense of National Security

December 26, 2010

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(Note: No video this week)


Weekly Wrap with Diane W Collins

The Weekly Wrap: December 19th

Tax Cuts Extension Package Passes

Welcome to The Weekly Wrap. I'm Diane Collins. The lame duck session of the 111th Congress is over wrapping up business on December 22nd. Perhaps the two most important issues of the final week were the passing of the "continuing resolution" that funds the federal government through March 4, 2010; and the ratification of the flawed START Treaty.


Funding the federal government has been a battle all year. The inability of Congress to approve the President's FY 2011 budget has led to a series of "continuing resolutions" providing short term finances. The disagreement has been over spending. During the lame duck session Republicans held to principles and defeated the 1.1T Omnibus bill, an attempt by Democrats to "legislate forward" and set spending levels through fiscal 2011. Congress finally agreed to pass another short-term funding measure keeping the government running through March 4th. This gives the 112th Congress the opportunity to address spending and restrict appropriations. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) who has been named to chair the House Budget Committee will spearhead the issue of fiscal responsibility.


Regarding national defense, the ratification of the START Treaty drew much needed attention this week. Sen. Jon Kyl led a valiant effort to defeat ratification of the flawed treaty. Although he was not successful, Sen. Kyl is to be commended for his relentless presentation of the major issues neglected by the Obama administration. These included missile defense, tactical weapons, and modernization. Other major players in the fight were Sens. McCain, and Risch. Unfortunately, Sen. McConnell was not able to hold the Republican line. Sens. who broke rank included Alexander, Corker (TN), Bennett (UT) Brown (MA), Collins, Snowe (ME), Isakson (GA), Lugar (IN), Murkowski (AK) Voinovich (OH).


Several points fell on deaf ears as the Treaty debate waged on. The power of the Senate to ratify treaties seemed to have been rendered impotent by the rule for no amendments. Reason? In the words of Sen. Kyl, "...because the Russians wouldn't like it." Another troubling issue that caused this author to write a story entitled "Keeping America Safe - The Nuclear Threat," on March 12, 2009 was brought to light again during the Senate debate. It was the apparent deal the Obama administration made with Russia to commence Treaty talks. What deal? We abandoned our plans for missile defense facilities to be built in Warsaw and Prague... bases that would have proven strategic to tactical weapons (short range) defense. The START Treaty doesn't cover tactical weapons the area in which the Russians have a 10 to 1 advantage over us. The Start Treaty only covers "long range" or strategic weapons. Yet in modern day warfare the most important arena of defense is tactical especially in the case of N. Korea and Iran. Tactical weapons have the ability to deliver nuclear warheads with the same amount of destructive power as strategic weapons. Under the START Treaty the US will reduce its strategic (long range) capability to an agreed level, however, the Russians strategic capability is already below that level... they give up nothing, gain everything.


At least Sen. Kyl was able to add a stand alone document that would require the modernization of our strategic defense system. Perhaps the most quotable statement of the Senate debate was that without modernization the United States would be left with a reduced strategic capability that amounted to a bunch of "wet matches." I have referred to President Obama as our Neville Chamberlain... nothing has made it more apparent than the ratification of this START Treaty.


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