New START Vote Gains Momentum

As the current session of Congress ticks to an end, President Obama appears to be gaining support for a vote on ratification of the New START arms reduction treaty. Nine Republican senators are now on the record supporting or indicating they could support the treaty in a vote before the holiday recess, reports the New York Times. As little as a week ago, the treaty looked endangered as GOP senators were united in opposition save for Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), however, still has concerns about whether the nuclear weapons complex will receive the modernization funding it requires. The directors of the nation’s nuclear laboratories on Dec. 1 indicated they were pleased with the Administration’s 10-year, $85 billion plan to modernize key nuclear facilities. Kyl indicated on the following day he might be open to a vote in the lame-duck session of Congress. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has recently made comments supportive of the treaty, as has Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), who said his concerns have been largely addressed. Other Republican senators indicating openness to treaty ratification include Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Me.), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). (See also CNN report)