START Treaty in Trouble

Senate GOP leaders will vote against nuke treaty
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2010 6:45 AM CST
Russian troops stand near truck-mounted Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missiles as they rehearse for a Victory Day parade in Moscow's Red Square.   (AP Photo/Artyom Korotayev)

(Newser) – Harry Reid says the Senate's choice on the START Treaty is simple—"You either want to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists or you don’t"—but the political reality is proving to be a lot more complicated. Top Senate Republicans Mitch McConnell and Jon Kyl announced yesterday that they plan to vote against President Obama's nuclear treaty with Russia and Lindsey Graham suggested he would no longer support it, leaving Democrats scrambling to hold together a coalition to pass it, the New York Times reports.

The treaty will need a two-thirds majority to pass and Democrats say they're confident they have the nine Republican votes necessary. GOP critics, however—including Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney—are urging the party's senators to reject it, citing concerns about its verification program and potential effects on future American missile programs. Most unusually for an arms treaty, the vote Reid plans for Tuesday looks set to go to the wire. The Times notes that a major arms control treaty has never been approved during a lame-duck session, nor has one ever passed without the support of the Senate minority leader.

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