WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats will move ahead on a US-Russia nuclear treaty, President Barack Obama's top foreign policy priority, despite strong opposition from some Republican lawmakers, a congressional aide said Tuesday.
The White House has signaled that Obama would delay his holiday vacation to ensure ratification of the treaty that would limit both nations' nuclear warheads and establish a system for verification. Congress is struggling to complete several top pieces of legislation, including a tax cut bill and a measure to keep the government running, in the final week of a year-ending congressional session. The treaty is one of the items on the Senate Democrats' must-do list.Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said Tuesday that the Senate would begin debate on the treaty as early as Wednesday.
Obama has pushed hard for ratification of the treaty, which has the backing of former Presidents George HW Bush and Bill Clinton as well as secretaries of state and defense for Republican and Democratic administrations. But several Republican senators have expressed concern that the treaty would limit a missile defense system and have suggested there is not enough time in the current session to give the pact the attention it requires. Twenty-two Republican senators signed a letter Dec. 2 calling for consideration of the treaty to be delayed until next year.