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Senate panel delays vote on START treaty

Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has postponed the first big vote on the president's new nuclear-weapons treaty, noting that Republicans want more time to decide whether they'll support it.

That pitches the treaty into the politically charged period right before the November elections.
With an 11-8 majority, Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee could have approved the treaty, setting it up for a floor vote. But that would likely have angered Republicans. Democrats want to round up several Republican committee votes, to make it more likely the pact will attract broader support from the entire Senate. It needs 67 votes to be ratified.

So far, Sen. Dick Lugar (Ind.), the ranking member, is the only Republican on the panel who has indicated he will vote for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

Republicans have raised concerns about whether the pact could constrain U.S. missile defenses; the administration says it will not. Republican senators also want guarantees of a significant increase in the budget to fix up the aging nuclear complex.

Kerry said Tuesday that the committee vote will be held after the summer recess, probably on Sept. 15 or 16.

By Mary Beth Sheridan  | August 3, 2010; 3:22 PM ET
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