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Tuesday
Dec212010

Holiday Rush: Senate Advances to Final Vote on START, Plans to Take Up 9/11 Bill Before Christmas

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Congress is inching ever closer to that Christmas break as lawmakers continue a flurry of last-minute work before the holiday.

The Senate Tuesday afternoon voted to move forward to a final vote on the START nuclear treaty with Russia. The pact overcame the Senate's 60-vote procedural hurdle with ease, advancing by a count of 67-28.

That "67" number is key, since the pact needs the support of two-thirds of the Senate for ratification -- 67 votes would get the job done. And it appears a near-certainty that it will get those votes, since 11 Republicans support the treaty: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Bob Bennett of Utah, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Susan Collins of Maine, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Dick Lugar of Indiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Olympia Snowe of Maine, and George Voinovich of Ohio.

A final vote could come late Tuesday, but more likely sometime on Wednesday.

"If in the end, the Senate in its wisdom ratifies this treaty, it's a victory for the country, not a victory for anybody else -- a victory for the country and that's what we're looking for," said Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry.

Once START is out of the way, the Senate is set to take another shot at passing a $6.2 billion measure to provide health care benefits and compensation first responders sickened during the clean-up after the 9/11 attacks.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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