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Senate expected to pass new START treaty

by Adam Russett on December 22, 2010

President Barack Obama has had several legislative successes in recent weeks, including the passage of a landmark tax-cut bill and the repeal of the military's Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. He was expected to get another on Wednesday as the Senate  poised to pass the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia, BBC News reports.

The passage serves as a good sign for Obama, who many had criticized for being ineffective in 2010. Obama suffered a stinging loss during the November mid-term elections, but he has since managed to reach across the aisle and get key Republican votes.

At the heart of the treaty is the reduction of tensions between the two super powers. However, experts say that while it is a step in the right direction, it does not erase the threat of nuclear weapons.

The technical language of the bill reduces deployed warheads to 1,500 on each side, but more importantly it serves as somewhat of an olive branch between the once-competitive nations.

The expected passage of the treaty was especially well-received by Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev. Reuters reports that he told students in India that the two countries did not have another option.

“I think you understand that if the Americans don't do this, we will not ratify this treaty – we agreed that we would do it in parallel," he told the students.

The expected passage will cause a rift through the Republican party as Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has railed against the legislation spelling. Arizona Republican Jon Kyl has also been a vocal critic in recent weeks.

Still, 11 Republicans voted to end the debate on the issue over the weekend, with Senator Lamar Alexander citing the fact that numerous Republicans in the past have supported such a measure.
 

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