In a 71-26 vote, the Senate has finally ratified the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia, ending a major political battle over the issue and setting the stage for the United States and Russia to agree to a small but meaningful reduction in nuclear weapons.
The only obstacle left to the treaty’s ratifiction is for it to pass through the Russian Duma, which is expected to be trivially easy as the treaty is almost universally supported there. The only reason the Duma hadn’t voted on it yet was that they wanted to make sure the US would agree before committing their support to it.
Today’s vote wasn’t the most difficult one in the Senate, which actually came yesterday when the Senate narrowly agreed (67-28) to end debate on the treaty and set up the ratification vote today.
Despite the treaty having been finalized early in the year, the Senate only even began debate a week ago today, and a number of Republicans had complained that the president was deliberately using the lame duck Senate to limit the amount of debating that would be possible on the deal.
The ratification is a significant victory for President Obama, and one of the few foreign policy pledges he can actually lay credit to having followed through with. The fact that even the seemingly slam-dunk treaty took such a large amount of fighting to pass however likely makes the victory somewhat bittersweet, and will only remind his supporters how many of his other pledges have died on the vine, either abandoned as too difficult or politically inexpedient.