Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) announced Sunday that he will vote against a new U.S.-Russia nuclear-arms accord, a move that could pressure other Republicans in what is likely to be a close vote in the next few days.
His statement came as Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the chamber’s second-ranking Republican, also said he would not support the treaty unless it was amended.
Supporters of the pact played down the announcements, saying they had not expected the senators’ backing. Vice President Biden and senior Democratic senators said the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) still has the votes to pass.
But the statements by the two leaders indicated how precarious passage has become, and how annoyed Republicans appear to be about Democrats’ handling of the lame-duck session. While Kyl had been an outspoken critic of the pact, McConnell had not spoken out against it until Sunday.