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13 October 1999

 
  

Congressional Report, Wednesday, October 13

(CTBT) (330)

SENATE REJECTS COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN TREATY  

The Senate late October 13 voted to reject the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty (CTBT).

The vote was 48-51, short of the 67 votes -- or two-thirds of the
Senate -- needed for ratification. The final vote closely followed
party lines with only four Republicans voting for it. Senator Robert
Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, voted "present."

Behind-the-scenes efforts by leading Democrats and Republicans to
forge a compromise under which Senate consideration would be deferred,
most likely until 2001, fell apart earlier in the day. Even some
opponents of the treaty as written, like Republican Senator John
Warner of Virginia, had fought to avoid a substantive vote because of
the message that outright rejection could send to other nations.

But by late afternoon the Senate, which had suspended consideration of
the treaty in order to pass a farm spending bill, formally voted to
return to the CTBT issue. By then the vote was along straight party
lines, 55-45, to proceed.

Approval of a treaty takes 67 favorable votes in the 100-member body
-- a total that all sides agreed could not be attained in this case.

During a final debate leading up to the expected vote, Republican
Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina called the CBTB the most
egregious arms control treaty ever presented to the Senate -- one
which could not be verified or enforced. Democrat Barbara Boxer of
California countered by warning that a U.S. rejection would inevitably
set an example for others, and could prompt a "nuclear chain reaction"
overseas.

President Clinton signed the CTBT in 1996, the first national leader
to do so. A total of 154 countries have now signed it, but only 26 of
the 44 countries with a nuclear capability have ratified.

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State)