By The Hill Editors - 06/15/10 10:00 AM EDT
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has a lot on his plate, and this is a pivotal week for two pieces of high-profile legislation he wants.
Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, needs at least eight Republicans to back a strategic arms treaty with Russia.
The treaty, known as START, requires 67 votes in the upper chamber. Only one Republican, Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Richard Lugar (Ind.), has indicated support for the pact negotiated between Moscow and the Obama administration.
Many Republicans, including Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.), have expressed major concerns about moving forward with the treaty, citing missile defense issues, among others.
Kerry says there are many myths about START and he wants to dispel them in June and July.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is working closely with him for GOP votes, which of course are hard to come by in an election year.
The key for both Kerry and the Obama administration is to get a Republican other than Lugar to support START in the Foreign Relations Committee. There is little chance that START will attract eight GOP votes on the floor if it only gets one in committee.
While Lugar and Kerry are on the same page on START, they differ on climate legislation. Last week Lugar unveiled a rival bill to Kerry and Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-Conn.) proposal.
Kerry has put in the hours to move his climate legislation, but political momentum is working against him, as Senate Democrats are considering moving an energy bill without climate provisions.
Kerry’s effort to move START has a better chance than his climate measure, but just getting one of the two to pass Congress this year would be impressive.