Top GOP senator: Nukes treaty ratification unlikely this year

The new nuclear arms reduction treaty signed last week is unlikely to be ratified by the Senate this year, a GOP leader suggested Monday evening.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), the third-ranking GOP member of the Senate, said that it would take longer than the end of the year to get together the 67 votes necessary to ratify the nuclear arms treaty President Barack Obama signed last week with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

"No, not this year. That's my view," Alexander said during an appearance on Fox News when asked if the Senate would ratify the treaty this year.

"We have a lot of questions," he said. "We need to get the right answers and then it might get 67 votes."

Indeed, treaties require 67 votes in the Senate for ratification, meaning that at least eight Republicans would need to support it in addition to all 59 Democrats, if they all hold together. Waiting until next year could significantly affect those margins, pending the results of the elections, where Republicans are expected to make inroads into Democratic majorities.

Alexander's admonition on a timeline appears to be more than partisan bluster, too. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) has suggested the votes aren't there to ratify the treaty for now, and that assurances to modify the U.S. nuclear stockpile may be needed to win Senate support.

The top GOP senator said that a busy calendar in the Senate, including a Supreme Court nomination, combined with colleagues' many questions would likely push things until next year.

"There are a lot of questions we need to ask. It took 431 days to ratify the treaty in 1991," he said. "It'll probably take about the same amount of time to do this one."


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