Sen. Scott Brown to support START treaty
Credit:Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.) announced Monday evening that he will vote for ratification of the New START treaty, becoming the latest Republican to come out in favor of the U.S.-Russia nuclear pact.
"I've done my due diligence, and I'm going to be moving for cloture and ... supporting the START treaty," Brown told reporters after the Senate met in closed session for an intelligence briefing on the treaty. "I believe it's something that's important for our country, and I believe that it's a good move forward to deal with our national security issues."
In announcing his position on the treaty, Brown said it was important to evaluate the information and get beyond party politics in coming to a decision.
"It's a question of gathering the information, learning about the issue, making a determination and doing what's in the best interests of our country," he said. "I think it's important here to bring a new way of thinking, and that's to get past the party politics and learn about the issues and then make a decision."
Earlier Monday afternoon, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) told reporters that he was leaning toward supporting the treaty.
"I think my colleagues have a right to have their points and their amendments discussed," Gregg said. "I am leaning toward supporting the treaty, but I want to make sure our side gets a fair hearing."
With the addition of Brown and Gregg to the "yea" column, the treaty appears to be nearing the threshold needed for ratification; the support of two-thirds of the Senate is needed to ratify a treaty, meaning Senate Democrats need at least nine Republicans to join them if the measure is to pass.
Other Republicans who have come out in favor of START include Sens. Richard Lugar (Ind.), George Voinovich (Ohio), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Bob Bennett (Utah). Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told reporters Monday afternoon that he hasn't made a decision yet but that progress was being made on addressing his concerns about the treaty.
"I voted for it out of committee, and I said at that time that there were some caveats," Corker said. "It appears to me that the caveats that I've laid out are going to be dealt with."
While some momentum appears to be building among Republicans, others are digging in their heels. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters Monday that he was leaning against supporting START, calling it part of a Democratic-led lame-duck session full of "special-interest politics."
"My hat's off to the Democratic leadership," Graham said. "They're running rings around us. ... They're like Sherman going through Georgia."
Graham also blasted his Republican colleagues for pushing ahead on START instead of waiting until the new Congress convenes.
"It's almost like Republicans are afraid of the new Congress," he said. "New members on the Republican side shouldn't be feared, they should be respected."
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) said after Monday's closed-door meeting that he expected that the treaty would win enough votes for ratification.
"Obviously, some people had made up their minds on both sides, and I'm not sure that it changed anybody's mind," Kerry said of the closed-door session. "But I do think that for the people who were in a state of trying to figure out one thing or the other, that it was very instructive, helpful and good for the Senate."
| December 20, 2010; 6:03 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency
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