Democrats have moved a step closer toward a crucial U.S. Senate vote on a new arms control treaty with Russia, beating back Republican efforts to alter the accord and setting up a showdown with the Republican Party on President Barack Obama’s top foreign policy priority.

The White House has made ratification of the landmark agreement an imperative in the closing days of the postelection Congress, but its hopes for the pact were complicated Sunday as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would oppose the treaty.

“Rushing it right before Christmas strikes me as trying to jam us,” said McConnell. “I think that was not the best way to get the support of people like me.”

McConnell on CNN’s “State of the Union” criticized the treaty’s verification system and expressed concern that the pact would limit U.S. missile defense options even though Obama insisted Saturday that the treaty imposes no restrictions on the system aimed at protecting the United States and its allies from ballistic missile attacks.

Undeterred by McConnell’s opposition, Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Sunday night that the Senate would vote Tuesday to end debate on the treaty and move to a final vote.

Continue reading →