Lame-Duck Congress Caps Final Week

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Congress is entering what likely will be the last week before newly elected lawmakers start the next session in January. Yet, the current Congress has shown no signs of slowing down -- taking up controversial votes during their final days.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign into law this week legislation that will let homosexuals for the first time ever serve openly in the U.S. military.

"Repealing this policy will leave our military stronger," Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said. "Some have said now is not the time to repeal this policy. They're right. It should have been done yesterday."

The final vote to repeal "don't ask, don't tell," a policy signed into law by former President Bill Clinton, came Sunday.

Opponents believe the change will damage the strength of the military and harm the country's national security.

"To appease them and sacrifice the lives of young Marines who are putting their lives on the line for this nation," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said. "I don't know how they can live with that, knowing that the blood of those young Marines will be on their hands."

However, when it becomes law, it won't necessarily be the final word. The military must first certify that letting gays serve openly in the ranks won't hurt the military's ability to fight.

Republicans likely will make the argument as to whether the White House and Pentagon can really prove it's safe to make this change during a time of war.

START Treaty

Another matter of national security is the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty or START with Russia. President Obama said passing the treaty is a top priority.

"Ratifying a treaty like START isn't about winning a victory for an administration or a political party," Obama said. "It's about the safety and security of the United States of America."

Still, the U.S. Senate's two highest ranking Republicans have come out against it.

"This was a flawed process and a flawed treaty," Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said.

"Well, I've decided I cannot support the treaty," Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. "I think the verification provisions are inadequate. And I do worry about the missile defense implications of it."

It's not only the potential limitations on missile defense to which opponents object, they also blast Democrats for waiting until the final days of the session to bring it up for debate.

"You say the lame-duck walks," Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., said. "I think it's just been a hodgepodge of special-interest politics."

The START treaty's fate is in a precarious state. It must get 67 votes to be ratified, which means Democrats would need a number of Republicans to agree to vote for the treaty.

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John Jessup

John Jessup

CBN News Anchor

John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, a position he assumed after 10 years reporting for the network in Washington, D.C. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating elections coverage. Follow John on Twitter @JohnCBNNews and "like" him at