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Obama: US Can't Afford New START Delay: President Obama has once again renewed his call to Congress to pass the New START arms-reduction accord with Russia before adjourning for the holidays, saying any delay could be detrimental to US national security. "Ratifying a treaty like START isn't about winning a victory for an administration or a political party. It's about the safety and security of the United States of America," stated Obama said in his weekly address (full text). Politico reports that Democrats appear to be getting close to the 67 votes needed for ratification, with five Republications committing to an "aye" vote. However, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y), Senate GOP leader, is one Republican who won't be crossing the aisle. During a floor speech Monday, McConnell called the treaty "flawed" and "mishandled," and said the Senate should not rush such important legislation through at the last minute. Obama said after more than seven months of Senate debate and 18 Congressional hearings "it's time to get this done." A cloture vote is scheduled for Tuesday and a final vote for ratification on Wednesday. (McConnell statement) (See also Minot Daily News report)