As the current session of Congress ticks to an end, President Obama appears to be gaining support for a vote on ratification of the New START arms reduction treaty. Nine Republican senators are now on the record supporting or indicating they could support the treaty in a vote before the holiday recess, reports the New York Times. As little as a week ago, the treaty looked endangered as GOP senators were united in opposition save for Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), however, still has concerns about whether the nuclear weapons complex will receive the modernization funding it requires. The directors of the nation’s nuclear laboratories on Dec. 1 indicated they were pleased with the Administration’s 10-year, $85 billion plan to modernize key nuclear facilities. Kyl indicated on the following day he might be open to a vote in the lame-duck session of Congress. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has recently made comments supportive of the treaty, as has Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), who said his concerns have been largely addressed. Other Republican senators indicating openness to treaty ratification include Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Me.), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). (See also CNN report)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.