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Posted at 3:33 PM ET, 12/22/2010

Senate ratifies New START arms pact

By Felicia Sonmez

The Senate on Wednesday ratified a new U.S.-Russia nuclear treaty, handing President Obama a major foreign-policy victory in the final hours of the 111th Congress's lame-duck session.

The treaty was ratified on a 71-to-26 vote as 13 Republicans joined with every member of the Democratic caucus to support the pact. In addition to the 11 Republicans who voted on Tuesday to end debate on the measure, GOP Sens. Judd Gregg (N.H.) and Mike Johanns (Neb.) also voted for ratification Wednesday.

Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were present in the Senate chamber for the vote, as was Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who was recovering from prostate surgery. Biden read the final roll-call tally, which was greeted by applause.

At a news conference afterward, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) heralded Wednesday's vote as a bipartisan achievement. Kerry pointed specifically to the importance of the treaty regarding President Obama's ability to negotiate with other world leaders.

"It's an enormously important measure of credibility for the president," Kerry said. "The reality is that any president, the ability to sit down with leaders in another country and to say to them that if we agree to X, Y and Z, and I can deliver, is critical."

By Felicia Sonmez  | December 22, 2010; 3:33 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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