The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the new START arms-control treaty with Russia early Thursday afternoon.
The vote was 14-4, with three Republicans siding with Democrats.
In an interview with MSNBC, committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) called the vote "very significant" and said it indicated a "strong prospect of passage [for the treaty] on the floor of the Senate."
Asked whether the vote would come before or after the midterm elections, Kerry responded that he didn't know.
"It shouldn't be [contentious]," Kerry said of the issue. "What's changed is the level of partisanship in Washington.
"I'm confident that we can get the votes to ratify this, barring some sort of development that changes the dynamic," he added.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) released a statement shortly after the vote.
“The new START Treaty that the President signed with Russia in April
reestablishes U.S. leadership on global non-proliferation of nuclear
weapons, reduces Russia’s nuclear arsenal and takes concrete steps to
secure a nuclear-free world without sacrificing America’s security," it read. "I
am pleased that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed this
historic agreement with strong bipartisan support today ... [and] I look forward to bringing this
treaty to the floor.”
President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the treaty in April. If implemented, it would lower the number of warheads, missiles and launchers permitted in both countries.
This post was updated at 2:04 pm.