The Senate: The Debate and Vote



On September 9, 1963, two weeks after the Committee on Foreign Relations concluded its hearings, the Senate began to debate the test ban treaty. Two weeks later the Senate gave its advice and consent to the nuclear test ban treaty by a vote of 80 to 19. During the intervening period, the Senate considered appropriation bills, had completed legislation on railroad strikes, and was confronted with a number of other pressing matters, including a proposed tax cut and a civil rights bill. In addition, politics remained an important preoccupation for many Senators. Meanwhile many groups, administration officials, scientists, and the public lobbied for the test ban. Several Senators, in turn, sought information and analysis from executive agencies, particularly the Departments of State and Defense, as well as nongovernmental scientists. Not every Senator received the same type or intensity of pressure or was concerned about the treaty to the same extent. Some were extremely interested in the treaty and sought out information while others had been preoccupied with domestic policy or were consistent supporters or opponents of arms control.


Foreign Policy National Security Nuclear Weapon Foreign Relation Military Power 
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  1. 1.
    For a discussion of Senators and foreign policy lobbying see Lester Milbrath “Interest Groups and Foreign Policy” in James Rosenau (ed.), Domestic Sources of Foreign Policy (New York: Free Press, 1967), pp. 213–230.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Interviews, April and May, 1964, and Congressional Record,September 9–23, 1963, passim.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Ibid.,September 17, 1963, p. 16245. However, another treaty opponent, Senator Willis Robertson reminded Senator Thurmond that the opposition represented the “unpopular side.”Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Ibid.,September 24, 1963, p. 16909. Although the opposition mail peaked late, most of the Senators and their assistants interviewed believed it was artificially stimulated and did not pay attention to it.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    The terms used here are suggested in Robert A. Levine, The Arms Debate (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1963), pp. 33–40. Levine uses five categories for analysis, the anti-war and anti-Communist systemists, and the anti-war, anti-Communist, and middle marginalists. However, the Senate does not contain all of his five types, or if it does, not every type has articulated its position, e.g., unilateral disarmament as proposed by Levine’s anti-war systemists.Google Scholar
  6. 13.
    One Senator who discussed the military aspects of the treaty at great length, but who had been expected to emphasize its political ramifications, took this course of action in order to establish his credentials as a person who was concerned with aspects of the treaty which preoccupied many undecided Senators. Interview, Washington, D.C., March, 1964.Google Scholar
  7. 42.
    The President signed the instrument of ratification in the treaty room of the White House on October 8, 1963, formally completing the process. Copies were sent to Moscow and London, another was deposited with the Department of State, while the fourth was given to the National Archives. Washington Post, October 8, 1963, p. A2.Google Scholar

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© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1970

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