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GOP support gives START the votes for ratification

From NBC's Ken Strickland
With a flurry of additional announcements this morning, there is now enough support from Republican senators to ratify the New START treaty, dealing another lame-duck session victory to the Obama administration in the final days of the 111th Congress.

GOP Sens. Bob Bennett of Utah, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee announced today that they will back ratification, which requires approval by two-thirds of the senators present.

Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee is also expected to announce his support for ratification on the Senate floor later today.

Republican Sens. Richard Lugar, Susan Collins, Scott Brown, Olympia Snowe, and George Voinovich have also stated that they will vote to approve the treaty.

Democrats needed to pick up at least nine GOP votes to ratify the nuclear arms treaty with Russia (assuming that all Democrats vote in support as expected.)

Over the weekend, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he would vote against ratification, saying that the Democrats have "jammed" Republicans by forcing the vote shortly before Christmas.

A cloture vote on the treaty is expected this afternoon, with final passage as early as tomorrow.

Msnbc.com's Carrie Dann contributed.