Senate advances budget deal

The Senate on Tuesday voted to end debate on a two-year budget deal in a 67-33 vote, setting the measure up for a final vote on Wednesday.

Twelve Senate Republicans joined all 55 Democrats and independents to advance the bipartisan budget deal approved in a landslide House vote last week. President Obama also supports the measure.

With Tuesday's vote, the Senate invoked cloture on the measure, setting up a final 30 hours of debate. That means a final vote would come Wednesday at 4:40, unless senators decide to allow an earlier vote.

There had been some thought that the final vote could come as early as Tuesday, but an aide to Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSenate Dems: Add Flint aid to spending deal Zika funding fight throws wrench in health lobbyists’ plans Shutdown risk grows over Flint MORE (R-Ken.), speaking after Senate Republicans held a caucus meeting over lunch, said the final vote would come on Wednesday.

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The bill sets top-line spending levels for 2014 and 2015 and reduces the sequester spending cuts by $63 billion over the next two years.

Despite opposition from conservative groups such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action, GOP Sens. Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissWyden hammers CIA chief over Senate spying Cruz is a liability Inside Paul Ryan’s brain trust MORE (Ga.), John HoevenJohn HoevenOvernight Defense: White House threatens to veto Gitmo bill GOP senators fight female draft in defense bill Majority of GOP senators to attend Trump convention MORE (N.D.), Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderOvernight Regulation: Lawsuits pile up against Obama overtime rule The American people are restive, discouraged and sometimes suicidal GOP chairman eyes lame-duck for passing medical cures bill MORE (Tenn.), Rob PortmanRob PortmanDems kill more ads in Ohio Senate rivals gear up for debates Funding bill includes million for opioid crisis MORE (Ohio), Roy BluntRoy BluntSenate rivals gear up for debates Super PAC hits Dem Senate candidate with ad in tightening Missouri race The Trail 2016: Presidential politics and policing MORE (Mo.), John McCainJohn McCainNBC's Lester Holt emerges from debate bruised and partisan Pundits react: Clinton won first debate Overnight Defense: Debate night is here | Senate sets vote on 9/11 veto override | Kerry, McCain spar over Syria MORE (Ariz.), Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonGrassley pulling away from Dem challenger Fifteen years since pivotal executive order, STORM Act could help fight terror finance GOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase MORE (Ga.), Orrin HatchOrrin HatchInternet companies dominate tech lobbying Senate panel approves pension rescue for coal miners Overnight Tech: GOP says internet fight isn't over | EU chief defends Apple tax ruling | Feds roll out self-driving car guidelines | Netflix's China worries MORE (Utah), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsSwing-state Republicans play up efforts for gun control laws Reid knocks GOP on gun 'terror loophole' after attacks GOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase MORE (Maine), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeTop GOP chairmen investigating foreign visa program Pence rallies GOP before final stretch Libertarian nominee top choice among veterans MORE (Ariz.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiOvernight Energy: Obama integrates climate change into national security planning GOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase Overnight Energy: Lawmakers kick off energy bill talks MORE (Alaska) and Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonJohnson links Dem opponent to Clinton email scandal Senate rivals gear up for debates The Trail 2016: Trump seizes on Charlotte violence MORE (Wis.) voted to end debate on the measure.

The rest of the GOP conference, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) — who faces a tough reelection race next year — voted against it.

Sens. Marco RubioMarco RubioGlenn Beck: I was wrong about Ted Cruz Senate rivals gear up for debates Rubio: End of Obama's term could be 'most damaging yet' MORE (Fla.), Ted CruzTed CruzThe Trail 2016: Fight night Google backs Obama's internet transition plan Steve King asks: Will Clinton be ‘on her meds or off her meds’ for debate? MORE (Texas) and Rand PaulRand PaulConservative group presses GOP to vote against spending bill Saudi skeptics gain strength in Congress Senators challenge status quo on Saudi arms sales MORE (Ken.) all voted "no." 

That’s a shift from the House, where GOP leaders and a majority of Republicans backed the deal brokered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul RyanSenate Dems: Add Flint aid to spending deal Clinton, Trump bring infrastructure hopes to White House Shutdown risk grows over Flint MORE (R-Wis.), who actively lobbied members in both chambers to support it.

Ryan boasted that the bill would cut budget deficits by $23 billion in the long run and represented the reality that with divided government, compromise was essential. He also argued the bill would prevent a repeat of the government shutdown that hurt the GOP in the fall.

After the Senate clears the bill and it is signed by the president, appropriators will work on hashing out an omnibus spending bill for the rest of the fiscal year. Congress will need to approve that bill by mid-January to prevent a shutdown.

“We have not been able to do our Appropriations Committee work because we have not had a top line,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiSenate Dems: Add Flint aid to spending deal This week: Shutdown deadline looms over Congress Week ahead: Key court date for climate rule; Fight over Flint aid MORE (D-Md.) said in praising the deal. “This enables us to have one for 2014.”

Conservative groups argued the bill actually increased spending over the next two years by turning off the sequester, and bickered with BoehnerJohn BoehnerRepublican Study Committee elders back Harris for chairman Dems to GOP: Help us fix ObamaCare The disorderly order of presidential succession MORE last week over the decision to move it.

Ryan negotiated the deal with Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty MurrayPatty MurraySenate Dems: Add Flint aid to spending deal Dems call for better birth control access for female troops US wins aerospace subsidies trade case over the EU MORE (D-Wash.), who said the bill was a first step toward rebuilding a broken budget process.

“We’ve spent far too long here scrambling to fix artificial crises instead of working together to solve the big problems we all know we need to address,” she said.

Republicans in the Senate who backed the deal included a number of appropriators. Hoeven said his decision was born out of discussions with other Republicans on the spending panel. 

"Now we can go ahead and start prioritizing spending ... so the dollars we spend are spent more wisely," he said.

Hoeven said committee members are already hashing out the giant omnibus bill implementing the budget and could release an outline this week.

Johnson said that he had talked to Ryan in recent days about the deal but Ryan didn't have to persuade him.

"He didn't have to sell me on it. I knew what he was trying to accomplish," Johnson said. 

The bill includes a House amendment to prevent a cut in physician payments under Medicare known as the “doc fix.” For three months, it would give Medicare doctors a 0.5 percent payment increase through the end of March.

It would also give Congress three months to permanently fix the problem, although Congress has been unable to do that for years. The Congressional Budget Office said the three-month bill would cost $8.7 billion.

To offset the restored sequester cuts, the bill would reduce federal employee retirement benefits by $6 billion. Military retiree benefits are also cut by $6 billion.

The bill raises airline security fees from $2.50 to $5.60 per ticket, and includes $28 billion in future cuts to Medicare fees. The deal also uses revenue from new oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and from higher premiums on government-backed private sector pensions.

Sen. Roger WickerRoger WickerGOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase GOP to Obama: Sanction Chinese entities to get to North Korea Senate GOP pressures Dems for deal on internet fight MORE (R-Miss.) said the cut to military retiree benefits was the main reason he opposed the bill.

“My objection that moves me from undecided to a no is what this budget does to current and future military retirees,” Wicker said ahead of the vote. “It breaks a promise. ... We can find $6 billion elsewhere without breaking a promise.”

A notable “no” vote was Sen. Thad CochranThad CochranMomentum builds for Clyburn poverty plan 'Hardball' Pentagon memo creates firestorm Insiders dominate year of the outsider MORE (R-Miss.), the ranking member on the defense appropriations committee who has been concerned about the sequester's effect on the military.

Cochran, however, has drawn a primary challenge from Tea Party-backed Chris McDaniel, who opposed the deal. 

“My expectation was that the sequester cuts built into that law would compel the administration and Congress to enact broad reforms to control growth in mandatory programs, which poses the greatest threat to the economy and our nation’s fiscal standing. That has not happened,” Cochran said in a statement on his vote.

McDaniel in a statement blasted Cochran for not working harder to defeat the deal.

 —This story was first published at 10:28 a.m. and last updated at 2:37 p.m.