Snowe, Collins pledge support for New START

Maine Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins have pledged to support the New START nuclear treaty, giving President Obama two crucial GOP votes for his foreign policy priority.

Snowe issued a statement Friday promising to vote for the treaty if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) brings it to the floor in the lame-duck session.

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“I am confident that New START will provide predictability in our relationship with Russia and thus enhance global stability, and most importantly, our national security,” Snowe said. “Therefore, if the majority moves to consider New START under a framework that allows for sufficient debate and amendments, I intend to support the Resolution of Advice and Consent.”

Shortly after Snowe’s statement, Collins posted a message on Twitter announcing her support for the treaty. 

Snowe noted the Senate has held 18 hearings on the treaty since the U.S. signed the pact with Russia in April.

Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the lead Republican negotiator with the Obama administration on START, said Wednesday there is not enough time before Christmas to ratify it in the lame duck.

But Sen. Dick Lugar (Ind.), the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, has said there is and predicts it would take only a few days for the Senate to debate and vote on it.

“Two days, at most three — but that would be only if people deliberately wanted to talk for hours, as opposed to any specific amendments and questions on the treaty,” said Lugar.