Lugar: Senate ‘on the threshold’ of approving START arms treaty

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) on Sunday said he is optimistic that
the START arms control treaty between the U.S. and Russia has “pretty
strong bipartisan support” in the Senate and that a lame-duck vote this
month will be successful.

Speaking on CNN’s
“State of the Union” with host Candy Crowley, Lugar said he is
optimistic that his colleagues want to vote on the treaty before the
Christmas recess, after a deal is reached on extending the 2001 and
2003 tax cuts and a continuing resolution to fund the government. 
Republicans have threatened to block any measure in the chamber unless
the tax cuts are dealt with, and several incoming GOP freshmen have
demanded the chance to vote on the treaty in January, when the party
will pick up six more seats. Mindful of the math, Democratic leaders
are pushing for a vote this month.

Lugar said he expects that will happen, if Reid can resist pressure from Democrats to bring up other issues before the treaty.
“We’re on the threshold,” Lugar said. “I hope we will, and I think if we do, the votes are there.”
plans to bring up the treaty for a vote before the end of the year, in
the ongoing lame-duck session. Sixty-seven votes are needed to ratify
the treaty in the Senate — the House does not vote on treaties —
and Lugar is critical to Democrats’ hopes of persuading enough
Republicans to support it. The ranking member on the Foreign Relations
Committee is well-respected for his foreign policy experience.
by Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.), Democrats
are portraying the treaty as necessary to ensure Russia’s ongoing
compliance with the old START treaty that expired last December.
by Crowley on recent votes that have put him at odds with the GOP,
Lugar denied he has become “cross-current” with the Republican caucus.
not sure I’m cross-current with my party,” Lugar said. “There are other
members who would agree with me on those issues, and some haven’t come
to a conclusion. I take your point that many members would say ‘We just
don’t agree with those positions.’ But the views I’ve taken, I believe,
are ones that are important to the Republican Party.”
if he expects a primary challenge in Indiana from the more conservative
flank of his party, Lugar acknowledged “there could very well be,” but
said he will be prepared.
“In the event that
someone wants to run, they will at least know that they have a
competitor in the field who is well-prepared, both financially,
organizationally, and program-wise. In the past, perhaps, some of our
Republican colleagues may have been surprised in the primary.”
Tags John Kerry

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