Six big achievements of a surprisingly 'do something' Congress

The 111th Congress, which adjourned Wednesday, is one of the most productive in US history, its 13 percent approval rating notwithstanding.

6. New nuclear arms pact with Russia

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    Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts and Sen. Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana hold a news conference Dec. 22 at the US Capitol, after the Senate ratified the START nuclear-arms reduction treaty.

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The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia reduces the US and Russian arsenals of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 apiece within seven years. The Senate ratified the treaty Dec. 22 by a vote of 71 to 26.

New START, as it is known, extends the START II, which expired December 2009. It also allows US inspections of Russian nuclear weapons sites to resume. During months of negotiation with the White House over terms of the treaty, Republican senators held out for evidence that the administration is also willing to modernize American’s nuclear force structure.

The Senate ratification of New START marks a step toward fulfilling Obama’s campaign pledge to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons.

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