Obama lob­bies GOP sen­a­tors to back arms pact

Dayton Daily News - - MORE TOP NEWS - By Donna Cas­sata As­so­ci­ated Press

WASHINGTON — Pres­i­dent Barack Obama tried to sway re­luc­tant Repub­li­can sen­a­tors on Mon­day to back a new arms con­trol treaty with Rus­sia as GOP aver­sion to giv­ing a po­lit­i­cally dam­aged pres­i­dent an­other vic­tory in­truded on his na­tional se­cu­rity agenda.

The White House and se­nior Democrats expressed con­fi­dence that they had the votes for the ac­cord that was signed by Obama and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Dmitry Medvedev in April. The two coun­tries ne­go­ti­ated the New START pact to cap nu­clear weapons and restart weapons in­spec­tions in the spirit of U.S. ef­forts to re­set the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the for­mer Cold War foes.

Obama, who de­layed his hol­i­day vacation, lob­bied sen­a­tors by phone as he pressed to com­plete the treaty be­fore Jan­uary when Repub­li­cans in­crease their num­bers by five in the Se­nate, cast­ing the ac­cord’s fate in doubt. Bol­ster­ing his ar­gu­ment for quick ac­tion, Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent a let­ter to con­gres­sional lead­ers re­it­er­at­ing sup­port for the ac­cord.

“This treaty en­hances our abil­ity to do that which we in the mil­i­tary have been charged to do: Pro­tect and de­fend the cit­i­zens of the United States. I am con­fi­dent in its suc­cess as I am in its safe­guards. The sooner it is rat­i­fied, the bet­ter,” Mullen wrote.

Se­nior Democrats pushed to­ward a de­ci­sive vote on to­day to cut off de­bate and set the stage for a fi­nal vote later in the week. A top Demo­crat an­nounced the back­ing of one key Repub­li­can — long­time Mis­sis­sippi Sen. Thad Cochran — but ac­knowl­edged that get­ting to the nec­es­sary two-thirds vote the Con­sti­tu­tion re­quires for rat­i­fi­ca­tion would be far from easy.

Pol­i­tics coursed through the de­bate on Mon­day as Repub­li­cans were still peeved by Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid’s de­ci­sion to in­ter­rupt the six days of treaty con­sid­er­a­tion for votes on the gay ban and an un­suc­cess­ful im­mi­gra­tion mea­sure, leg­is­la­tion they con­sid­ered a sop to the Demo­cratic Party’s lib­eral base.

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