The Cable

Exclusive: Clinton: Agreement with GOP on New START very close

MANAMA, Bahrain—The Obama administration and Republican congressional leaders are in the final stages of reaching an agreement to bring the president's nuclear arms treaty to a Senate vote this month, according to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"It's like a no-hit game. We've made a lot of progress, but it's not done until it's done," Clinton told The Cable in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the IISS Manama Security Dialogue.

Senate sources say the deal is imminent and would result in bringing the treaty, known as New START, to the Senate floor on Dec. 13, which could provide up to two weeks of floor time to debate and then ratify the pact. That's the amount of time Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) has said is needed to properly vet the treaty. And that would allow the White House to fulfil its promise to get it done before Christmas.

But Kyl, who holds the keys to ratification because so many Senate Republicans are committed to following his lead, has also said that the Senate needs to resolve differences over extending George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy.

Clinton acknowledged that this was the main sticking point.

"We have been encouraged by the positive response we've received from a number of Republicans," she said. "They're also telling us, ‘You know, it depends on what happens during this session.'"

She also said that if and when the treaty does get a vote, she thinks it will secure the 67 yes votes needed for it to go into effect.

"I believe we have enough votes that recognize the national security importance of doing this. But I'm not counting the chickens until they vote."

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