Resounding House vote quashes Senate opposition to budget deal

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The year-end budget deal is likely to pass the Senate next week even though few Republican senators have publicly backed it, leadership aides say.
 

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“It seems likely we’ll get there,” said a Senate Democratic leadership aide of the 60 votes needed to advance the budget agreement crafted by Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayThe risk of kicking higher ed reauthorization down the road Trump admin announces abstinence-focused overhaul of teen pregnancy program Overnight Energy: Senate confirms Bridenstine as NASA chief | Watchdog probes Pruitt’s use of security detail | Emails shine light on EPA science policy changes MORE (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWatchdog group sues for donor list from Ryan-aligned nonprofit Terminating Budget Committees not as absurd as it sounds The writing is on the wall for bump stocks and Congress should finalize it MORE (R-Wis.).
 
A Senate GOP leadership aide said the budget pact’s prospects received a strong boost Thursday when the House passed it with more than 300 votes.
 
“I don’t have any reason to think it won’t pass,” said the aide. “The vote yesterday in the House that got 169 Republicans was a big vote.”
 
The final tally was 332 to 94, a strong rebuke to conservative groups such as Club For Growth and Heritage Action that had urged lawmakers to oppose it.
 
The Senate is scheduled to consider the legislation on Tuesday.
 
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidAfter Dems stood against Pompeo, Senate’s confirmation process needs a revamp GOP poised to advance rules change to speed up Trump nominees Dems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination MORE (D-Nev.) on Friday predicted the bill would pass.
 
"Well, I would think it would,” he told Bloomberg Television in an interview. “I think it would be suicide if the Republicans didn't pass it.”
 
When asked if every member of the Democratic Caucus would vote for it, he said, "Yeah, we'll get our votes."
 
A source familiar with the thinking of Senate Democratic leaders said the overwhelming House vote ended any thoughts that Senate Republicans might have had about blocking the deal.
 
“If they had any thought of it, it was evaporated by the vote in the House,” said the Senate insider.
 
Senate Democratic leaders need at least five Republicans to overcome a 60-vote hurdle and move the legislation to final passage.
 
So far, only Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainManchin, Donnelly back Pompeo This week: Senate barrels toward showdown over Pompeo Romney forced into GOP primary for Utah Senate nomination MORE (R-Ariz.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Energy: Dems raise new questions about Pruitt's security | EPA rules burning wood is carbon neutral | Fourth GOP lawmaker calls for Pruitt's ouster | Court blocks delay to car efficiency fines How much does the FDA really do to promote public health? Trump aide: Mueller probe 'has gone well beyond' initial scope MORE (R-Maine) have said they are likely to vote for the deal.
 
"Although it is not the budget I would have written and I am concerned about the impact on the military retirees, I do consider it a significant step forward that will prevent us from continuing to lurch from crisis to crisis," Collins told reporters.
 
Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeWinners and losers from Jim Bridenstine’s confirmation as NASA administrator Manchin, Donnelly back Pompeo Juan Williams: GOP support for Trump begins to crack MORE (R), McCain’s home-state colleague, said he would vote to end debate on the legislation but not for final passage.
 
Democrats need at least two more Republicans to end an expected filibuster against the deal, which reduces the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration by $63 billion over the next two years.
 
Democratic leaders could need to round up additional Republicans if they suffer defections within their own conference. A handful of Democratic senators, including Sen. Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (Ark.), a vulnerable incumbent, are wavering on the vote.
 
The top three Senate Republican leaders — Sens. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRand's reversal advances Pompeo After Dems stood against Pompeo, Senate’s confirmation process needs a revamp Overnight Cybersecurity: Senators eye path forward on election security bill | Facebook isn't winning over privacy advocates | New hacks target health care MORE (Ky.), John CornynJohn CornynRand's reversal advances Pompeo Joe Scarborough predicts Trump won't run in 2020 Republicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller MORE (Texas) and John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneHouse, Senate GOP compete for cash Overnight Tech: Alleged robocall kingpin testifies before Congress | What lawmakers learned | Push for new robocall rules | Facebook changes privacy settings ahead of new data law | Time Warner CEO defends AT&T merger at trial Senators grill alleged robocall kingpin MORE (S.D.) — have signaled they will vote against the package because it lifts spending caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act.
 
Republican advocates of the military have pushed all year for the reduction or elimination of sequestration that would hit the military disproportionately next year.
 
But several pro-defense Republicans, such as Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Cybersecurity: Senators eye path forward on election security bill | Facebook isn't winning over privacy advocates | New hacks target health care Paul backs Pompeo, clearing path for confirmation Can Silicon Valley expect European-style regulation here at home? MORE (R-S.C.) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteAudit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years No, the US did not spend million on a gas station in Afghanistan MORE (R-N.H.), have balked at the deal because it would cut pension payments to military retirees.
 
Working-age military retirees would see their payments drop by 1 percentage point, which veterans groups say could shave their benefits by 20 percent over the next two decades.
 
To help with the whip effort, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinSen. Gillibrand, eyeing 2020 bid, rankles some Democrats The Hill's 12:30 Report Congress needs bipartisanship to fully investigate Russian influence MORE (D-Mich.) released a statement Friday pledging to conduct a review of military pensions.
 
“We’re going to review this retiree pension issue as part of a review that we’re doing on benefits,” Levin said. “We will be reviewing this issue next year.”
 
“The budget, I believe, needs to be improved,” he said.
 
Even Republicans who usually vote for bipartisan deals on taxes and spending were slow to embrace the Murray-Ryan agreement.
 
Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenators press administration on mental health parity Overnight Energy: Watchdogs unveil findings on EPA, Interior controversies | GAO says EPA violated law with soundproof booth | IG says Zinke could have avoided charter flight | GOP chair probes Pruitt's four email addresses GOP fractures over push to protect Russia probe MORE (R-Alaska) on Thursday voiced concerns about pension reductions for federal employees and military veterans as well as reforms to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). The deal would rescind funds in the SPR Petroleum Account and bar the government from accepting oil though the royalty-in-kind program.
 
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), a respected voice within the GOP conference on budget matters, came out against the deal Friday.
 
“I have maintained that any budget deal alternative to current law must preserve the taxpayer savings of existing law. The budget agreement does not accomplish this basic goal,” he said in a statement.
 
Several Democrats have threatened to vote against the agreement because it does not include extended unemployment benefits. But these liberal lawmakers are likely to help Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) end a GOP filibuster.
 
“I have not yet decided on the budget agreement,” said Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownVulnerable Senate Dems have big cash advantages Trump VA pick faces challenge to convince senators he’s ready for job Overnight Finance: Senate repeals auto-lending guidance, shattering precedent with vote | House passes IRS reform bills | Senate GOP fears tax cut sequel MORE (D-Ohio). “I don’t want to leave town with unemployment insurance [unresolved]. Forty thousand people in my state lose their unemployment at the end of the year.”
 
Brown said he would vote for a cloture motion to set up a final vote, even if he votes "no" on final passage.
 
Sens. Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinDem Senator open to bid from the left in 2020 Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Trump should require federal contractors to follow the law MORE (D-Iowa) and Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Finance: Treasury mulls sanctions relief for Russian aluminum firm | Trump floats tying NAFTA talks to border security | 14 states hit record-low unemployment Kamala Harris will no longer accept corporate PAC money Judd Gregg: Who wins with Paul Ryan's departure? MORE (Vt.), an independent who caucuses with Democrats, have also said they are undecided about whether to support the bill.
 
Reid has promised colleagues he will make unemployment benefits the first order of business in 2014.
 
Centrist Democrats such as Sens. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuSenate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Project Veritas at risk of losing fundraising license in New York, AG warns You want to recall John McCain? Good luck, it will be impossible MORE (D-La.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinRand's reversal advances Pompeo West Virginia GOP Senate candidate says he’d like to waterboard opioid dealers Overnight Health Care: Teen pregnancy program to focus on abstinence | Insurers warn against short-term health plan proposal | Trump VA pick faces tough sell MORE (D-W.Va.) say they will vote "yes." 
 
—Erik Wasson contributed to this report.