Sixty-six senators voted this afternoon to begin debate tomorrow on the START arms treaty with Russia. The treaty needs 67 votes for ratification. The Wall Street Journal reports "START Passage Looks Dead for 2010."
Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, John Thune of South Dakota, Christopher Bond of Missouri, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, George LeMieux of Florida and Mark Kirk of Illinois have called a press conference for 2:45 p.m. today to announce their opposition to ratification of the treaty during the lame-duck session.
Sens. Alexander and Kirk had given favorable signals about the treaty, and White House officials considered Sen. LeMieux a likely vote.
"This is a last minute Christmas-time stunt that puts a major arms treaty in jeopardy....reckless," said Republican senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. Daniel Foster notes that the GOP didn't follow through on threat to have the bill read aloud: "The read-aloud has been called off, as Democrats have agreed to run the clock anyway, getting debate time extended whilst saving the clerk’s voice. Unclear whether DeMint may have also found the read-aloud redundant in light of the new wave of GOP opposition to lame-duck ratification."
Update: See the roll call here. Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh wasn't present for the vote; add him and you get to the magic 67. But John McCain and Lindsey Graham voted for cloture and they're no sure thing on ratification. ""I hope we can [ratify the treaty]," McCain said today. "But right now I still have serious concerns about the missile defense part of it."