Dems beat back GOP efforts to alter arms treaty

Senate Democrats have turned back Republican efforts to change a new arms control treaty with Russia. By a vote of 64-33, the Senate rejected a measure that would have increased the number of weapons inspectors. If adopted, the amendment would have effectively killed the treaty, forcing U.S. and Russian officials back to negotiations.

Eight Republicans voted against the amendment.

By a vote of 64-33, the Senate also rejected an amendment to increase the number of deployed launchers. The measure would have had the same impact on the treaty.

Democrats have managed to beat back four GOP amendments to the treaty. Earlier Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (SEHR'-gay LAHV'-rahf) had warned against any changes to the treaty.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is telephoning lawmakers to win Senate approval of a new arms pact with Russia, even as a top Democrat concedes "house by house combat" will be needed to prevail.

The president is continuing to call senators as he presses for passage of the New START treaty before Congress adjourns, according to deputy press secretary Bill Burton.

The treaty — initialed in April — would slash deployed nuclear arsenals by roughly a third.

On Sunday, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell said he<ll oppose the pact over concerns about verification and missile defense. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., predicted approval but acknowledged winning the required two-thirds vote will be "a real slog."