Lame-Duck Senate Votes to Ratify START

Dec 22, 2010 3:27pm

ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports: The Senate today voted to ratify the START nuclear pact with Russia, handing President Obama and Democrats their latest big win in a lame-duck session that has been full of them. The 71-26 vote was called with Vice President Biden in the chair. A two-thirds majority was needed for ratification. The treaty now heads to President Obama’s desk. 13 Republicans voted for the treaty: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Bob Bennett of Utah, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Susan Collins of Maine, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Dick Lugar of Indiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Olympia Snowe of Maine, and George Voinovich of Ohio. In addition to Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also at the Capitol when the vote was called. The Senate’s ratification of the treaty was the chamber’s last high-profile move during the 111th Congress. Lawmakers are set to head home for the year later today, not to return until January 5. Earlier in the day the Senate passed the 9/11 health bill. In addition, in the past week Congress has passed the tax cut compromise deal, the food safety bill, and the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, a slew of legislative accomplishments that few had predicted during the lame-duck session. However, those accomplishments have left some Republicans crying foul. “I am not proud of this process. I’m not proud of this lame duck. I am not proud of what we’ve been doing as a party, quite frankly, because we’ve jeopardized the minority standing in future congresses. We’re setting precedent in a lame duck that I think is unhealthy for the future of this country,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, on Tuesday. Graham specifically took aim at the Senate’s consideration of the treaty during a lame-duck session when a slew of retiring or defeated lawmakers have one foot out the door. “The real threat is a rogue state missile attack or an accidental launch,” Graham said. “So what we’re about to do is negotiate — negotiate away something we desperately need in a Congress that doesn’t represent the will of the people.”

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