Senate votes to begin debate on nuclear weapons treaty

 In Nuclear Weapons

This afternoon the Senate voted 66-32 to take up begin debating the New START Treaty on the floor! This is a major step toward getting a ratification vote before the end of the year.

Nine Republicans crossed party lines and voted Yes to begin working on the treaty this week: McCain (AZ), Graham (SC), Bennett (UT), Murkowski (AK), Brown (MA), Voinovich (OH), Collins (ME), Snowe (ME), & Lugar (IN). Nine Republicans gives us the margin we need to ratify the treaty in the final vote, as Think Progress explains:

The final vote was 66 to 32. While this was short of the magic number of 67, two senators did not vote, including Democratic Senator Evan Bayh who is expected to support the treaty. In other words, this vote indicates that treaty will likely have the 67 votes needed for ratification.

We are getting much closer! It’s the nature of the Senate that things could change at any moment. But the plan is that debate began this afternoon and will continue first thing Thursday morning.

The Republicans have dropped some of the delay tactics they were planning, but they are already grasping for other straws:

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) called Democrats’ push to force through an arms control treaty and an omnibus spending bill right before Christmas “sacrilegious,” and warned he’d draw the process out to wage his objections.

“We shouldn’t be jamming a major arms control treaty up against Christmas; it’s sacrilegious and disrespectful,” he told POLITICO. “What’s going on here is just wrong. This is the most sacred holiday for Christians.

That’s strange, since every one I know works at least through Christmas Eve every year. You?

While it’s good news that they have started the process, because of games like this, we do not know how long it will take to really get to the final vote on the treaty. The Senate will also be switching back and forth to work on the funding bill at the same time. The final floor vote on the treaty could happen over the weekend, or it could take well into next week.

There are still several days left when anything could happen, and we could lose all the momentum we’ve built so far. So, we’re rallying another round of grassroots pressure on all Senators to make it clear that they need to vote yes on this treaty, and they need to do it this week. It’s been a long year working on the START Treaty, but we’re almost there, and with your support, we’ll do our best to carry it across the finish line.

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  • AC

    WTF? How is it sacrilegious to celebrate the birthday of the Prince of Peace by working to limit useless and dangerous weapons of mass destruction? I can’t think of a more appropriate thing to be doing in the weeks before Christmas.

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