Senate vote on tax package gives shot in arm to START treaty ratification

Passage of the $858 billion tax package by the middle of this week could pave the way for the Senate to vote on ratifying the New START nuclear treaty by Christmas, the aides said.

The treaty is hugely important to the White House and would represent an important domestic and foreign policy victory for Obama if it were to be approved in this Congress. 

Senate Republicans have vowed not to move any legislation until a tax package is approved along with a measure to keep the government funded. But the tax package received a huge shot of momentum Monday when the Senate overwhelmingly voted to proceed to that bill. 

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A senior Democratic aide said Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidGOP frustrated by slow pace of Trump staffing This week: Congress awaits Comey testimony Will Republicans grow a spine and restore democracy? MORE (D-Nev.) would likely bring START to the Senate floor by Thursday and put it on a parallel track with spending legislation. 

Reid could then jump off START to consider an omnibus or a continuing resolution to keep government funded into 2011. This would give the leader the ability to switch back to START after the funding bills are considered.

It's unclear if Reid's gambit will be successful. Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the lead GOP negotiator with the administration on START, has said there isn’t enough time for the Senate to ratify the treaty in the lame-duck session.  

But Republicans face some pressure to support the deal, which has the support of every living former secretary of State, as well as the military.

Senators expect Reid to attempt to move an omnibus appropriations bill that would set the federal discretionary spending level at $1.108 trillion for 2011.

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellOvernight Energy: Trump energy nominees face Congress | OPEC to extend production cuts Senate confirms Trump's first lower-court nominee Top GOP senators tell Trump to ditch Paris climate deal MORE (Ky.) has said he will oppose an omnibus spending bill, but some Republicans, including Sen. Thad CochranThad CochranCongressional politics hurts cotton farmers GOP senators dismiss Trump filibuster change Ryan touts spending deal for breaking 'Obama rules' for defense MORE (Miss.) the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, might vote for it. Cochran said Monday evening he was considering a yes vote and planned to meet with his staff to attempt to change some parts of the spending package Republicans don’t like.

A GOP aide said retiring Sens. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Kit Bond (R-Mo.) and Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiA retreat from the Paris climate pact would imperil U.S. interests Overnight Finance: Dems introduce minimum wage bill | Sanders clashes with Trump budget chief | Border tax proposal at death's door Overnight Energy: Trump energy nominees face Congress | OPEC to extend production cuts MORE (R-Alaska), who is expected to win reelection as a write-in candidate, might also vote for the omnibus.