WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama took a step toward a major foreign policy victory as the Senate began debate on a US-Russia nuclear pact.
The move by Senate Democrats to bring the New START treaty up for debate reflected confidence that they could deliver approval just weeks after the pact appeared stalled.
The White House and senior Democrats have expressed confidence Wednesday that they had the two-thirds majority, or 67 votes, needed for ratification in the Senate. In a fresh sign of momentum, Democrats easily prevailed, 66-32, to move forward on the pact, winning the support of nine Republicans. Among them was Sen. John McCain, Obama's 2008 presidential rival and a top lawmaker on national security issues.
Still, several Republicans, led by Sen. Jon Kyl, objected to considering the treaty in the waning days of Congress' short year-ending session, insisting the Senate should wait until next year.