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Obama's START-Treaty Hopes Stopped By Key GOP Senator

Sens. Jon Kyl and Mitch McConnell

Republican Senators Jon Kyl (AZ) and Mitch McConnell (KY) on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010. Harry Hamburg/AP Photo hide caption

itoggle caption Harry Hamburg/AP Photo

One area where President Obama had hoped to make bipartisan common cause with congressional Republicans was on the START treaty between the U.S. and Russia to reduce their nuclear arsenals.

But the chances that Republican senators would agree to a vote on the treaty during the present lame-duck session receded Tuesday with Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-AZ) announcement that he won't support such a vote.

In a statement, Kyl said:

“When Majority Leader Harry Reid asked me if I thought the treaty could be considered in the lame duck session, I replied I did not think so given the combination of other work Congress must do and the complex and unresolved issues related to START and modernization. I appreciate the recent effort by the Administration to address some of the issues that we have raised and I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Kerry, DOD, and DOE officials.

Obama has repeatedly pointed to the START treaty as an area in which he could work with Republicans, explaining that nuclear arms control has traditionally been an area of bipartisan agreement.

But Republican senators have for weeks indicated an unwillingness to vote on the treaty before the new Congress starts in January when the Republicans will gain six new senators.

Among their concerns, GOP senators said they question how the treaty would be enforced. They also questioned what they viewed as an unnecessary rush to ratify a complicated treaty.

As NPR's David Welna reported on for the network's newscast:

DAVID: At least eight Senate Republicans would have to back the New START treaty for its ratification, but so far only one has committed to doing so.  Other Republicans are following the lead of Minority Whip Kyl, who's asked the Obama administration to commit more money to modernizing the nation's nuclear stockpile.  After talks with administration officials, Kyl says he cannot support dealing with the treaty during the lame duck session:

KYL SOUNDBITE: I think what they discussed with us was in good faith, and they acknowledged the issues we had been raising were valid, that they did need to come up with some additional money, which i appreciated, but there's still a lot of work to be done.

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