The Senate Has the Right to Amend New START

Baker Spring and Michaela Bendikova /

The Senate plays a vital role in the treaty-making process. The Senate is required to provide due diligence in the considerations of treaties. The Founding Fathers set a high procedural bar for ratification and entry into force of treaties, expecting that the Senate would serve as a quality control mechanism.

Thus, they gave the Senate the power to amend the text of any treaty brought before it. This includes New START, a strategic nuclear arms control treaty with Russia.

In addition, the Senate must adopt a resolution of ratification for New START. The resolution of ratification can contain reservations, understandings, conditions, and declarations. The Senate has the power to adopt any of those to fix the seriously flawed New START.

It is inappropriate to describe all amendments to text of New START as “killer” amendments. Blocking meaningful amendments undermines the constitutional authority of the Senate by artificially limiting Senate options for providing advice in the course of the making of treaties. (more…)