Sen. Lamar Alexander said Tuesday he will vote for the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) treaty, putting the White House close to the number of senators required to ratify the pact.
“Americans are safer and more secure with the treaty than without it,” Alexander said in remarks on the Senate floor.
“The president has committed to an $85 billion, 10-year plan to make sure these weapons work. The treaty allows for inspection of Russian warheads. Our military leaders say it does nothing to interfere with development of our missile defense system. The last six Republican secretaries of state support the treaty.”
Alexander is the Senate’s No. 3 Republican, and his support is important to the White House, which now hopes to ratify the treaty later this week. Sen. Bob Corker also has signaled he will vote to ratify START.
Later Tuesday, fellow Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, took to the Senate floor to outline his decision to also support START.
This week, Alexander and three other senators sent a letter to President Obama asking he include funding for modernization weapons facilities in his budget requests to Congress. Alexander said Obama agreed.
“I have reviewed the plan that calls for spending $85 billion over the next 10 years on nuclear modernization," Alexander said. “I have visited our outdated nuclear weapons facilities. I am convinced that the plan’s implementation will make giant steps toward modernization of those facilities so that we — and our allies and adversaries — can be assured that the weapons will work if needed. The president’s statement that he will ask for these funds and the support of senior members of the Senate Appropriations Committee means that the plan is more likely to become a reality. This will make sure the United States is not left with a collection of wet matches.”