US poised to approve nuclear arms pact with Russia

WASHINGTON — The US Senate was poised to approve a nuclear arms pact with Russia on Wednesday, handing President Barack Obama a huge victory on his top foreign policy priority.
Passage of the New START treaty appeared assured after 11 Republicans joined Democrats in a 67-28 procedural vote Tuesday to end debate on the pact. That signaled that Obama should have the two-thirds majority he needs when the Senate votes on final approval of the treaty Wednesday.
Its ratification would mark a big comeback for Obama's arm controls efforts after the treaty appeared all but dead just weeks ago. It also would allow Obama to continue efforts to improve relations with Russia.
Ratification would mark a third recent major political victory for Obama, even though his Democratic party was trounced in last month's congressional elections. In recent days, he won passage of a bipartisan tax deal and a vote ending the 17-year-old ban on gays openly serving in the military, a crucial issue with the party's liberal base.