DATE=10/18/1999 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=TEST BAN AFTERMATH NUMBER=5-44537 BYLINE=DAVID SWAN DATELINE=CAPITOL HILL CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The U-S Senate vote against the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty has left an unusually bitter aftermath. The treaty's supporters complain its opponents politicized what should have been a nonpartisan issue - while those who defeated the pact say their reasons were sound. V-O-A's David Swan reports. TEXT: For years, there was a saying in Washington that politics stops at the water's edge. In theory at least, this meant that whatever their differences, the two parties united against foreign threats. Democrats say this attitude of working together for the good of the country is now shattered. Senator Joseph Biden is one of the treaty's strongest defenders. /// Biden Act /// This is absolutely a travesty. You know, if anybody wondered about it they shouldn't wonder any more. National security is just another political issue now. This notion of it stopping at the water's edge, this debate, forget it. /// end Act /// Republicans say their opponents are simply angry at losing the vote. They say the ban on nuclear testing did not deserve ratification because it could not be verified and could weaken the U-S nuclear arsenal. Majority Leader Trent Lott vigorously denies that his party's stance was based on narrow partisan issues or personality clashes. /// Lott Act /// You should note that a majority of the Senate, 51 senators, voted against ratification. Only 48 voted for ratification and it requires 67 to ratify the treaty. So there was not even a close question about whether or not this treaty would be ratified. /// End Act /// While Democrats accuse their opponents of politicizing foreign policy, they acknowledge their own tactical mistakes gave Republicans an opening. The White House and its allies had long pushed for a vote on the test ban. But when Republicans called their bluff and quickly brought up the treaty, Democrats could neither avoid a showdown or muster enough supporters to win. Minority Leader Tom Daschle says the matter should have been handled differently. /// Daschle Act /// It was our hope that we could have hearings and then have an opportunity to fully debate the treaty. That wasn't done and I regret the fact that we weren't more careful. /// End act /// Of course, not everything falls strictly along party lines. Some prominent Republicans backed the air war over Kosovo. Nor have foreign affairs ever been completely nonpolitical, including the times when Democrats controlled Congress. There were long, heated debates when President Reagan sought aid for Nicaraguan rebels and when President Bush was preparing for war in the Persian Gulf. But in recent years the arguing has grown louder and more caustic. Partisanship now colors almost every issue, domestic or foreign - and some of the test ban debate was purely personal. At one point, which left Democrats fuming, Republican Jesse Helms openly mocked the president's affair with a White House intern. The senator described a mythical phone call from Mr. Clinton to British Prime Minister Blair. /// Helms Act /// `Cause (because) after all the president could pick up the phone and say "Look, Tony I got a problem over here. I got a hat full of worries. How about sending me a little old letter?" And I know Tony'd say "Oh yes, I'll do that, I'll do that. And give Monica my regards." /// End Act /// Mr. Clinton denies the impeachment scandal had any real connection to the treaty's defeat. But the sharp-toned rhetoric has raised concerns in the Senate, which prides itself on a genteel, businesslike image. Republican Chuck Hagel, who voted against the treaty but wants to reexamine it, says he and his colleagues must not let their partisan instincts get out of control. /// Hagel act /// No good will come out of that if we allow ourselves to get boxed into that because that will polarize and then just paralyze, and that will have consequences to everything up here and we'll have a Congress next year and a government that can't govern. /// End Act /// Lawmakers often talk about making cooperation a priority again in the wake of partisan struggles such as the one over the nuclear test ban treaty. But since next year is an election year, their main priority is likely to be re-election and fighting for control of the White House. (Signed) Neb/DS/JP 18-Oct-1999 15:38 PM EDT (18-Oct-1999 1938 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .