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. 

A senior Democratic aide said Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidMcConnell not yet ready to change rules for Trump nominees The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate Trump to press GOP on changing Senate rules 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 McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP lawmakers want Trump to stop bashing Congress Parkland father calls out Trump, McConnell, Ryan after Santa Fe shooting Overnight Finance: House rejects farm bill in conservative revolt | NAFTA deal remains elusive as talks drag on | Dodd-Frank rollback set for House vote MORE (Ky.) has said he will oppose an omnibus spending bill, but some Republicans, including Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranMississippi Democrat drops Senate bid Dems look to keep up momentum in upcoming special elections Chamber of Commerce makes play in Mississippi Senate race for Hyde-Smith 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 Ann MurkowskiGOP, Dem lawmakers come together for McCain documentary Dem rep to launch discharge petition to force net neutrality vote in House Hillicon Valley: Senate votes to save net neutrality | Senate panel breaks with House, says Russia favored Trump in 2016 | Latest from Cambridge Analytica whistleblower | Lawmakers push back on helping Chinese tech giant MORE (R-Alaska), who is expected to win reelection as a write-in candidate, might also vote for the omnibus.