Most GOP senators facing primaries vote against budget deal

Most Republican senators facing primary foes in 2014 voted against allowing a vote on the budget deal crafted by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Of the seven Senate Republicans who have at least nominal primary opposition in 2014, only Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) voted for cloture on the deal; he plans to vote against the final measure. Alexander was one of a dozen Senate Republicans to vote to let the deal come to a final vote. Sixty-seven senators overall voted for it.

The Republicans who voted against the deal include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who's facing a well-funded Tea Party challenger, as well as Sens. Thad Cochran (Miss.); John Cornyn (Texas); Mike Enzi (Wyo.); Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Pat Roberts (Kan.).

Most of these senators appear to have the upper hand in their reelection battles, but it's clear many don't want to give their opponents an opening.

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"I will vote against the budget agreement because it avoids the federal government’s most urgent need: reducing the growth of runaway entitlement spending. Instead, it spends savings that should be used to strengthen Medicare, pensions, and the air transportation system," Alexander says in a statement explaining why he voted to allow a final vote on the budget but won't support the deal.

"Although I can’t support it," he continues, "I appreciate the efforts of Rep. Ryan and Sen. Murray to bring certainty to the budget process, which is why I voted earlier today to allow a Senate vote on their agreement, which had passed the House with two-to-one Republican support."

A vote against cloture wasn't enough to spare McConnell from the ire of right-wing groups, who argue he didn't fight the deal hard enough.

"In true Sen. Mitch McConnell fashion, instead of fighting this bad deal early on, he waits until he has tested the waters and does what's most politically advantageous. This recent deal is yet another example of how McConnell’s failed leadership has enabled Democrats to win another budget victory," said Madison Project spokesman Drew Ryun.

"In October, McConnell undercut House Republicans and preemptively agreed to fund every penny of ObamaCare. He made it clear to Democrats that he is terrified of any and all budget brinkmanship, and even implied that he would retaliate against fellow Republicans who want to stand firm against ObamaCare. In doing so, he ceded all of the leverage to the Democrats to go a step further and repeal part of the sequester."