McConnell uncertain GOP can block New START, 'Don't ask, don't tell' repeal

The Senate's top Republican said on Friday he wasn't sure the GOP would have the votes to halt two of Democrats' top legislative items set for action in the closing days of Congress.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed confidence Republicans would be able to stop the DREAM Act when it comes up for a vote, but was far less certain his party would be able to stop the New START Treaty or a bill to repeal "Don't ask, don't tell."

McConnell said Friday on Sean Hannity's conservative radio talk show that he was "pretty confident that'll be defeated," in reference to the DREAM Act, legislation that would grant a conditional path to citizenship for immigrants who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children.

On the other two items, McConnell was less sure.

The Kentucky Republican said he didn't know where votes stood on the repeal of the military's ban on openly gay and lesbian service members. Several Republicans have announced their support for repeal, though, making it seem likely the Senate will vote to do away with the policy. And McConnell said he hadn't been paying enough attention to the fight over the treaty to be sure Republicans would be able to stop it.

"I just can't tell you how it's going to come out yet," McConnell said, explaining that his No. 2, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.), had been spearheading the effort against that bill while McConnell had focused on taxes and the omnibus.

"The treaty will require 60 votes to get cloture and ultimately 67 to be ratified. And I simply don't know the outcome of that," McConnell said, while adding that he thinks Kyl will ultimately vote against the nuclear arms reduction pact with Russia.

Senate proponents of repealing "Don't ask, don't tell" have said they have 60 votes to survive a filibuster and pass legislation to do away with the policy. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has scheduled a vote on that and other bills for a rare weekend session in the Senate.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in particular has led an effort to ratify the treaty, which President Obama has made his top foreign policy priority.


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