December 20, 2010 in Nation/World

GOP ratchets up opposition to nuclear treaty

James Oliphant Tribune Washington bureau

WASHINGTON – Senate Republican leaders on Sunday took their most aggressive stance yet against a proposed arms-control treaty with Russia, casting new doubts over its chances of approval during the remaining days of the current Congress.

The top two GOP members of the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona, said they oppose ratification of the new START treaty, which requires two-thirds of the Senate – 67 votes – to pass.

McConnell, citing concerns about language in the treaty concerning missile defense, accused Democrats of trying to fast-track the agreement through the chamber.

“All of a sudden, we’re once again trying to rush things right here before Christmas Eve,” McConnell told CNN. “I think that was not the best way to get the support of people like me.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., quickly responded, saying he was disappointed at McConnell’s decision.

“I know many senators, including my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, who share the belief that this treaty is too critical to our national security to delay,” Reid said.

Supporters of the treaty say its quick approval is necessary in order for the United States to resume close monitoring of Russia’s nuclear stockpile.

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Kyl said that whether the treaty receives a vote depends on whether enough time remains before the end of session to consider Republican amendments.

“This treaty needs to be fixed,” Kyl said. “And we are not going to have the time to do that in the bifurcated way or trifurcated way that we’re dealing with it here, with other issues being parachuted in all the time.”

Reid may attempt to file a motion to cut off Senate debate today or Tuesday in order to set up a vote before Christmas Eve.

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