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Can Obama JumpSTART Lame Duck Congress?

President Obama said today it was "imperative" for the Senate to ratify the START treaty , which will reduce arms between the U.S. and Russia, and said that there was "no higher national security priority" for the lame duck session of Congress.

CBS News' John Dickerson asked CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller just how "imperative" this treaty is to the White House or if it's a ploy to break the wall Republicans have put up before they take control of the House on January 3rd?

"There's no reason to doubt, President Obama believes it is 'imperative' that this treaty get ratified before the end of the year, during the lame duck session," Knoller answered, "He's got more Democrats in the Senate then he will have after the beginning of the new year, so his chances of getting the two-thirds necessary to ratify a treaty are better now than it will be later."

Mr. Obama is also hoping to make good on an assurance to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. As Knoller explained further, "[President Obama] negotiated this treaty with Medvedev. They signed it back in April. Here it is, the end of the year, and he wants it done."

START Treaty Becomes Political Football

The president has tasked Vice President Joe Biden to take on the role as enforcer for the White House. Mr. Obama said Biden will be focusing on this task "day and night."

"Biden has his marching orders, as a former long-time member of the Senate," Knoller told Dickerson, "Biden's probably the best person in the administration to use his influence to try and get the treaty ratified now."

Watch Thursday's Washington Unplugged above, also featuring CBS News chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford on how the verdict in the Ahmed Ghailani civil trial will impact Guantanamo Bay detainees. And Politico's Alex Burns discusses the bickering already taking place between Republicans and Democrats before the 112th Congress is sworn in.


Lauren Seifert
Lauren Seifert is an associate producer for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. For more Washington Unplugged, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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