Senate Ready for New START Ratification Vote

The Senate is poised to hold a ratification vote on Wednesday on the New START arms control agreement. After days of intense lobbying, it appeared on the eve of the vote that President Obama had won over enough Republican Senators—he needs nine—to secure the pact’s ratification, one of his Administration’s top foreign policy goals. A key development came Tuesday when Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), No. 3 in Senate GOP ranks, announced in a Senate floor speech that he “will vote to ratify” the accord, which would reduce US and Russian nuclear arsenals each to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 800 total delivery vehicles. Clearing the way for Wednesday’s historic vote was Tuesday’s cloture measure that ended debate on the treaty by a 67 to 28 margin, with 11 Republicans voting in favor. Also on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made a last-minute appeal for ratification, saying the treaty’s “prompt ratification will strengthen US national security.” (Gates statement) (For a position against ratification, see statement by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)) (See also Los Angeles Times report and Politico report)