Two Tennessee Republicans came on board for ratification of the U.S.-Russia nuclear arms deal on Tuesday as momentum grew
in the Senate for the START
treaty, the top foreign policy objective of President Obama in the lame-duck session.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said he was convinced that "signing this treaty, that ratifying this treaty, and all the things we've done over the course of time as a result of this treaty" are in the national interest, the Tennessean
reported. Corker said he was satisfied with commitments made by the Obama administration to modernize America's nuclear arsenal.
Earlier, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) third-ranking Republican in the Senate, told the Nashville newspaper he would vote to ratify the agreement in part because of the president's commitment to spend $85 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arms program.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and his top lieutenant, Jon Kyl of Arizona, have said they will vote against START -- Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. But Majority Leader Harry Reid and other supporters won a key procedural vote for the treaty Tuesday and Reid planned to advance to a final ratification vote.
Alexander's and Corker's votes brought to at least nine the number of Republicans saying they would support the arms pact, the Washington Post
reported. If the GOP numbers hold firm, Obama would have the two-thirds majority -- 67 votes -- needed for ratification, since 56 Democrats and two independents are also expected to back the deal, the Tennessean said.
Tennessee is one of the states likely to benefit from a nuclear modernization program, as it is home to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory
, a prominent science and technology research center.
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