House and Senate leaders appear to have minimized defections on their budget plans in a show of strength ahead of fiscal fights this summer.
The dueling blueprints from Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanFive fights for Trump’s first year Sunday shows preview: Trump stares down 100-day mark Ryan: Focus is on keeping government open, not healthcare MORE (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty MurrayPatty MurrayOvernight Healthcare: GOP healthcare talks stall | Ryan takes backset to Pence in new repeal effort | FDA nominee grilled over industry ties Senators battle over FDA nominee's financial ties FDA nominee won't commit to banning flavored e-cigarettes, cigars MORE (D-Wash.) tested party unity on both sides, but a whip count by The Hill indicates leaders have enough support to pass them.
Similarly, in the House, only Rep. Paul BrounPaul BrounCalifornia lawmaker's chief of staff resigns after indictment Republican candidates run against ghost of John Boehner The Trail 2016: Let’s have another debate! MORE (R-Ga.) had as of Monday promised to vote against Ryan’s plan, indicating that GOP leaders will stay well below the 15-defections limit to approve the budget over unified Democratic opposition.
Neither budget resolution has a shot at being reconciled with the other, but both sides believe the votes — which could happen later this week — will give them leverage as they head into another high-stakes battle over the debt ceiling.
The budget votes could come at an electoral cost, particularly for Senate Democrats.
Sen. Max BaucusMax BaucusChanging of the guard at DC’s top lobby firm GOP hasn’t reached out to centrist Dem senators Five reasons why Tillerson is likely to get through MORE (D-Mont.), who is up for reelection in 2014, remains non-committal about the Murray plan. He was known to oppose language in the budget that instructs his Finance Committee to raise $975 billion in new tax revenue.
Sen. Mark BegichMark BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE (Alaska), another vulnerable Democrat facing reelection, is “still continuing to review all options as part of his overall efforts to enforce real budget cuts,” his office said.
Begich told The Hill this month that he would need to see real spending cuts in the budget plan. The Murray budget trims $285 billion from entitlements, but that falls short even of White House proposals.
Centrist Sen. Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampBusiness groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Sanders supporter to run against red-state Democrat GOP lays out regulatory reform wish list MORE (D-N.D.) was also not ready to commit on Monday after winning election to the Senate on a budget-cutting platform.
Democratic leadership aides told The Hill they are confident they will have the votes to pass the budget plan as it was advanced out of committee.
Since then, two more Democratic senators up for reelection from red states have backed the budget plan: Sens. Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting MORE (S.D.) and Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Five unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist MORE (La.).
“The Senate budget proposal addresses the deficit in a fair and balanced way while moving America forward,” Johnson said.
Liberal Sen. Tom HarkinTom HarkinDistance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream MORE (D-Iowa) is also comfortable with the blueprint, an aide said.
Senate Republicans hope to use the budget votes to exert maximum pain on red-state Democrats. They plan to offer “many” amendments, according to aides, and the number could climb north of 100.
One of the amendments aimed at vulnerable Democrats will call for a balanced budget. While the spending blueprint from Ryan in the House would come into balance in 10 years, Murray’s never would.
If just a few Democrats break with their party and help approve the balanced-budget amendment, the budget would likely become toxic to liberals and fail on the floor.
That would be a nightmare scenario for Democratic leaders, but it appears unlikely.
Ryan, meanwhile, will meet with Senate Republicans for lunch on Tuesday to try and rally support for his budget plan in the upper chamber. Senate Republicans are expected to vote on the House Budget Committee chairman’s blueprint this week, but do not plan to offer their own alternative.
Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzWarren builds her brand with 2020 down the road Trump wall faces skepticism on border No Congress members along Mexico border support funding Trump's wall MORE (R-Texas) and other conservatives have criticized Ryan’s budget for not repealing all of President Obama’s healthcare reform law. The plan keeps $716 billion in Medicare cuts in place, but uses the savings to extend the solvency of the program.
Centrist senators such as Sens. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsCollins: I'm not working with Freedom Caucus chairman on healthcare Mexico: Recent deportations 'a violation' of US immigration rules White House denies misleading public in aircraft carrier mix-up MORE (R-Maine) and Mark KirkMark KirkThe way forward on the Iran nuclear deal under President Trump ObamaCare repeal bill would defund Planned Parenthood Leaked ObamaCare bill would defund Planned Parenthood MORE (R-Ill.) could balk at steep cuts to domestic discretionary programs and the implementation of a premium support system to compete with Medicare, both of which are called for in Ryan’s budget.
Collins and Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiTrump’s Army pick faces tough confirmation fight Republican Sen. Collins considering run for Maine governor in 2018 Alaska senators push bill to allow Arctic drilling MORE (R-Alaska) voted in May of 2011 against a motion to consider a similar budget crafted by Ryan.
So far, Senate Republicans are alone in voicing skepticism about Ryan’s plan.
In the House, only Broun has forcefully come out against the budget even though it balances the budget six years later than many conservatives would like and keeps the tax hikes approved in the “fiscal cliff” deal.
Last year, 10 Republicans voted against Ryan’s fiscal plan. But Ryan moved his proposal this year to the right, balancing the budget 15 years earlier than it would have before.
Even rebel conservatives like Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) and Justin AmashJustin AmashGreens take climate fight to GOP town halls US pressure on Saudis can help promote peace in Yemen Who will replace Chaffetz on Oversight? MORE (R-Mich.) who voted “no” on the last Ryan budget were holding fire as of Monday.
The powerful outside groups Club for Growth and Heritage Action were mum when asked about Ryan’s plan, even though they praised an alternative budget from the Republican Study Committee that would balance in four years.
Congressional leaders also appear to be on track to avoid a government shutdown.
A $984 billion spending bill to fund the government appears to have enough bipartisan support to clear the Senate with 60 votes.
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidWarren builds her brand with 2020 down the road 'Tuesday Group' turncoats must use recess to regroup on ObamaCare Dem senator says his party will restore 60-vote Supreme Court filibuster MORE (D-Nev.) vowed to pull out all the stops to avert a shutdown, and he forced a cloture vote to proceed to the bill on Monday. That vote succeeded 63-35.
Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiDems press for paycheck fairness bill on Equal Pay Day After 30 years celebrating women’s history, have we made enough progress? DC restaurant owners sue Trump hotel over unfair competition: report MORE (D-Md.) and ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) were unable earlier in the day to whittle down the more than 90 amendments to the six-month spending bill.
Even though the Senate bill differs from the House version, there is little will in either party to shut down the government after March 27.
Alexander Bolton contributed to this report.