McCain hopeful Senate could ratify New START by year's end

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on Tuesday that he's hopeful the Senate will ratify the New START treaty by the end of this year.

McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he thought that negotiations between the Obama administration and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) were moving forward such that they could get a vote on the nuclear-arms deal with Russia before the end of December.

"I believe that we could move forward with the START treaty and satisfy Sen. Kyl's concerns and mine about missile defense and others, and I would hope that we can do that," McCain said Tuesday on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"I would hope so," he said when asked if negotiations had advanced to the extent that a vote could be held by the end of the year. "But Sen. Kyl's concerns are very legitimate, and I think that attempts are being made to address them."

Hopes had faded for some time after Kyl, the GOP point man on the nuclear-arms reduction pact, had raised concerns about the agreement's effects on missile defense systems and other areas of U.S. national security.

President Obama has made the New START treaty a top priority of his administration during the closing month of the lame-duck Congress, and has tasked Vice President Joe Biden with rounding up the 67 Senate votes necessary to secure ratification. In the Senate, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) has led the effort to ratify the treaty with Russia.

McCain said that he hoped additional common ground on the matter could be found when congressional leaders in both parties meet at the White House Tuesday morning.

"What I would hope that we could do is agree to the extension of tax cuts at all levels and also reach some agreement on moving forward with the START treaty as well," he said. "I think that is a serious result that could ensue from the meeting today."

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