Obama has votes to pass New START

Treaty with Russia sets new cap on nuclear warheads

Columbus Dispatch

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama locked up enough Republican votes yesterday to ratify a new arms-control treaty with Russia that would cap nuclear warheads for both former Cold War foes and restart on-site weapons inspections.

Eleven Senate Republicans, including George V. Voinovich of Ohio, joined Democrats in a 67-28 proxy vote to wind up the debate and hold a final tally today.

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, also supported the measure.

"We are on the brink of writing the next chapter in the 40-year history of wrestling with the threat of nuclear weapons," Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., said after the vote.

Ratification requires two-thirds of those voting in the Senate, and Democrats needed at least nine Republicans to overcome the opposition of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Jon Kyl of Arizona, the party's point man on the pact.

Momentum accelerated yesterday when Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, endorsed the accord.

The treaty will leave the United States "with enough nuclear warheads to blow any attacker to kingdom come," Alexander said on the Senate floor, adding, "I'm convinced that Americans are safer and more secure with the New START treaty than without it." Four other Republican senators - Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Bob Corker of Tennessee and Robert Bennett of Utah - said they would back the pact.

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Obama has votes to pass New START »