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 TIME on politics TIME CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and TIME

Senate leaders close to agreement on vote for nuclear test ban treaty

By Dana Bash/CNN

October 1, 1999
Web posted at: 2:09 p.m. EDT (1809 GMT)

WASHINGTON -- A day after a surprise Senate Republican move to bring a long-delayed nuclear test ban treaty up for a vote, Democrats say they are close to an agreement on how and when to proceed with debate.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) said he supports the offer on the table for an October 12 vote on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a week later than Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) proposed Thursday.

Daschle said the extra week would give them more time to get the 67 votes to ratify the 152-nation treaty, which has been delayed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for two years.

Daschle, who admitted he was caught by surprise when Republicans offered to bring up the treaty for a vote next week, criticized the Republicans for attempting to push such an important issue through so quickly.

"I think the cavalier way with which they are addressing this important matter ought to send a clear message to the whole country that they're not capable of governing. I believe this is a governance issue. You don't take something this important and treat it as if it were some bumper strip somewhere," said Daschle, "This is more than just a campaign slogan, this will send a message to the rest of the world, whatever we do, whether we accept it or reject it, the rest of the world is watching."

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty calls for a ban on all nuclear testing and has been signed by 152 nations, and ratified by 47.

Those opposed to the treaty say it amounts to unilateral disarmament, warning that China and other nuclear powers which have not ratified the measure.

If all 45 Democrats vote for the treaty, they would need 22 Republicans for ratification. Democrats say they realize those votes will be difficult to get, but have no choice but to bring it before the Senate for a vote.

"Do you want to die with knowing who shot you? Or do you want to die at least with the world knowing who killed you. And with me, it's real simple. I really mean this. This is about responsibility," said the lead Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware

Under the likely agreement, the Senate would begin 14 hours of debate on October 8, and vote on the ratification October 12.

Associated Press news material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.



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