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Still, the Obama administration appears optimistic, believing enough Republicans are on board now to allow for ratification this month. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Monday this is what the president expects to happen. Gibbs also said Obama is willing to stay in Washington, D.C., and delay his holiday vacation as long as necessary to ensure that START is ratified this year.
“Our belief is, as you’ve seen a number of Republican senators come out, that — that this is ... a treaty that will ... that has the votes to pass the Senate and I believe will pass the Senate before Congress goes home for — for the holidays,” Gibbs said.
Reid previously set Dec. 17 as the Senate’s adjournment date, but that may be slipping.
Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) acknowledged that staying in Washington, D.C., next week is one way START might avoid becoming a victim of the crowded lame-duck legislative calendar. But he declined to comment on whether doing so would be acceptable to those in the minority who have pushed back against the idea of a rushed treaty debate.
“It’s a good question,” Alexander said.
Jennifer Bendery contributed to this report.