On Tuesday, Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl said he didn't think the New START treaty could be considered in the lame duck session "given the combination of other work Congress must do and the complex and unresolved issues related to START and modernization." As the Senate minority whip, and the main Republican voice on the treaty, most say Kyl's vote will ultimately decide its fate. Sen. Joe Lieberman, too, said passing the treaty in the lame duck session would be impossible without Kyl's backing.
But despite Tuesday's verbal setback, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said Wednesday that the White House was not giving up on a lame duck vote. The treaty, she said, is "not an issue that can afford to be postponed."
While Kyl said his motive for postponing the vote is related to time, Sen. John Kerry believes the real issue may be funding for nuclear modernization. Kyl was promised $4.1 billion over five years in exchange for his support of the treaty. National Journal's Megan Scully and Sara Sorcher report:
The administration and Senate leaders have said they are committed to modernization, Kerry said, pointing to the $80 billion the White House had already planned to request over the next decade for the nuclear stockpile and infrastructure, and the additional $4.1 billion it planned to add at Kyl's behest.
Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Richard Lugar, R-Ind., who voted to move the treaty out of committee to the floor, stressed today that failure to pass the New START treaty this year would only delay inspections of Russia's nuclear activities, which were put on hold late last year after the original START treaty expired.
"This is very serious," said Lugar, one of four Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee who supported the treaty.
Clinton added that the administration is assuring the Russians that the White House and key senators are doing "everything we can during the lame-duck to get a vote to ratify this treaty."
Read the full story at National Journal.