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Gibbs Expresses Hope For New START in Lame-Duck Congress

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs speaks; Alex Wong/Getty Images

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has been a sometimes-lonely voice of optimism that the Senate will approve the Obama administration’s New START nuclear arms treaty with Russia before the current lame-duck congressional session comes to an end.

Gibbs was emphatic Friday saying, “Congress won’t leave before START gets done and it will get done with a strong bipartisan vote.”

Sixty-seven Senate votes are required to ratify the treaty.

The new START, which would limit the nuclear arsenal of both countries and provide for inspections, is a top priority for the Obama administration and Senate Democrats before Congress dismisses.

Many Republicans have not voiced public support. Arizona’s Jon Kyl — the Senate’s No. 2 Republican — has declared that treaty ratification should and will await the next session of Congress, when Republicans will have more seats in the chamber as a result of the midterm elections.

The bill is supported by Maine’s Republican senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

Gibbs, speaking to reporters in an off-camera news conference this morning, said it’s likely President Obama won’t leave Washington for his planned vacation in Hawaii until the Senate votes on START.

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