Senate Ratifies Weapons Pact with Russia

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President Barack Obama gained another political victory Wednesday as the Senate passed a major nuclear arms pact between the United States and Russia.

The New START treaty cleared the Senate the same day Obama also signed a law to repeal the military's17-year ban on homosexuals.

The arms treaty with Russia was one of the president's top priorities. The deal limits each country's strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 -- down from the current ceiling of 2,200.

A system for monitoring and verification of nuclear arms will also be put in place. U.S. weapons inspections ended last year with the expiration of a 1991 treaty.

"We are on the brink of writing the next chapter in the 40-year history of wrestling with the threat of nuclear weapons," Sen. John Kerry, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, said.

By mid-week, the measure was expected to pass. Earlier enough Republicans threw in their support to pass the treaty during a mock vote, even as others still voiced their concerns.

Opponents argued that the News START treaty will jeopardize U.S. plans for developing a missile defense shield in Europe. Some also feel the U.S. could've gotten a better deal.

"They went into the negotiations, it seems to me, with the attitude with the Russians just like the guy that goes into the car dealership and says, 'I'm not leaving here until I buy a car,'" Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., said.

Meanwhile, as the lame-duck session wraps up, Congress has taken care of other business by passing a short-term funding bill to keep the government running.

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