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Johnson expresses concerns with START treaty

U.S. Sen.-elect Ron Johnson said he continues to have concerns over a nuclear missile treaty that he had hoped would be delayed for debate until he's sworn in.

Johnson told WisPolitics he has the same concerns about the treaty that others expressed: that it ties the nation’s defense missile system to a reduction in nuclear arms. The Senate voted 67-28 to advance the treaty.

“I’m concerned about anything in this lame-duck session that is just being rammed through without adequate debate, without proper hearings,” Johnson said.

While acknowledging the treaty has received a fair amount of hearings and debate, Johnson said he was concerned about other issues the Senate took up in the lame-duck session.

He declined to say whether he would have supported the extension of Bush era tax cuts that was coupled with an extension of unemployment benefits and other measures, contending he wasn't part of the process. But he pointed out he campaigned against increasing the deficit, something many believe the package will do.

“It’s a real shame that in the bargain, what you had to negotiate, the compromise not to raise taxes on the American people, we had to increase deficit spending,” Johnson said.

Johnson said with his background in accounting, he would like to serve on the Budget Committee.

He has also expressed an interest in a spot on the Appropriations Committee, “but not to spend money.” Instead, he said such a seat would allow him to get a feel for the entire federal budget as he searches for ways to rein in the national debt.

Repealing the federal health care overhaul remains his No. 1 priority, and he expressed hope that Republicans could derail funding for the plan in the next session, particularly after they thwarted a more than $1 trillion spending plan.

Johnson said the push from freshmen to swear off earmarks and other issues they’ve raised are already having an impact in Washington, D.C.

Dems criticized Johnson for hiring lobbyist Don Kent to be his chief of staff in Washington after he campaigned against the influences in D.C. But he brushed off that criticism and said Kent was the right choice for the job to help him navigate unfamiliar territory.

“I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not that familiar with Washington,” Johnson said. “In order to be effective, I needed to put people in the Senate office that were very familiar with Washington. That’s not going to corrupt me in any way, shape or form. I’m going to go there with my values and my principles. I just need people in DC that really understand that city to help me develop those relationships so I can be effective.”


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