The GOP says a 14-4 bipartisan Foreign Relations Committee vote doesn't guarantee the full Senate will accept the treaty hammered out by U.S. and Russian negotiators and signed by President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, The Hill reported Monday. A vote is planned for the lame-duck session after the Nov. 2 elections.
The treaty would reduce missiles, warheads and launchers in both countries and succeed an agreement that expired in December. Ratification requires 67 votes by the Senate; the House does not ratify treaties.
Republican critics said the treaty endangers the United States by not taking strong enough steps to modernize the country's arsenal of missiles, which Republicans say leaves the current stockpile susceptible to malfunctions.
"Things depend entirely on the administration's commitment to nuclear modernization," Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said. "There are a number of us on the Republican side … who want to make sure that we continue this path to make sure our nuclear weapon force is up to date."
Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., declined to predict the outcome before leaving Washington last week for the pre-election recess, but said he was optimistic White House officials would persuade enough Republicans, The Hill said.
Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., the panel's ranking Republican, also expressed optimism, saying, "I think we'll have a debate and ratify the treaty during this calendar year. But I would be completely off-base on trying to predict the final vote."