White House Pushes for Arms Treaty with Russia

By: CBS
By: CBS

Democrats are fighting hard to get enough senators to say they'll support a new nuclear missile treaty with Russia. But republicans are slow to sign on, saying there's no need to rush through a treaty that could affect the country's national security.

Top Republicans lined up on the Senate floor urging the White House to ease off on its push for a new arms treaty with Russia.

"No senator should be forced to make decisions like this so we can tick off another item on someone's political checklist before the end of the year," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Minority Leader.

But Democrats insist that's not what's happening.

“This treaty is not being rushed,” said Sen. John Kerry, D-MA. “This treaty was delayed at the request of republicans."

President Obama and Russia's President signed the treaty in April. It allows each country up to 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads and sets up a system that verifies both nations are holding up their end of the deal.

The White House launched a full court press for the treaty.

The President called Senators - and sent top intelligence officials here to Capitol Hill -- to give lawmakers a closed-door briefing on what's at stake.

New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand thinks the treaty will pass and will make the country safer from nuclear threats.

"One of the biggest things on my mind is Iran,” she said. “We need Russia to help make sure Iran doesn't militarize their nuclear capability."

But, some GOP senators say the treaty doesn't go far enough to make sure Russia follows the rules.

“History is replete with examples of the Russians cheating on these agreements," said Sen. John Thune, R-SD.

Democrats hope to hold a test vote Tuesday and a final vote later in the week. They'll need 67 yes votes – two-thirds of the Senate – in order for the treaty to be ratified.

Several republicans decided to support the treaty after the president sent a letter to congressional leaders over the weekend, but democrats are still a handful of votes shy of that two-thirds mark.


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