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 MurrayPatty MurrayInspector general reviewing HHS decision to halt ObamaCare ads Dems mock House GOP over lack of women in healthcare meeting The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanFox News host promoted by Trump calls on Paul Ryan to step down Dan Rather: Failure to repeal ObamaCare most 'staggering loss' so early in a term Sunday shows preview: Aftermath of failed healthcare bill 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 ReidThis obscure Senate rule could let VP Mike Pence fully repeal ObamaCare once and for all Sharron Angle to challenge GOP rep in Nevada Fox's Watters asks Trump whom he would fire: Baldwin, Schumer or Zucker 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 McCainMcCain: Trump admin must fill State Dept. jobs McCain says he hasn't met with Trump since inauguration Overnight Defense: General warns State Department cuts would hurt military | Bergdahl lawyers appeal Trump motion | Senators demand action after nude photo scandal MORE (R-Ariz.) and Susan CollinsSusan CollinsGOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Five takeaways from Labor pick’s confirmation hearing ObamaCare repeal faces last obstacle before House vote 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 FlakeJeff FlakeOvernight Regulation: Senate moves to strike Obama-era internet privacy rules Overnight Tech: Senate votes to eliminate Obama internet privacy rules | FCC chief wants to stay out of 'political debate' on fake news | Wikileaks reveals new CIA docs Senate votes to block internet privacy regulations 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 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 McConnellMitch McConnellThe Memo: Winners and losers from the battle over health care GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support MORE (Ky.), John CornynJohn CornynGOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Rand Paul takes victory lap on GOP health bill Senators push Trump on defense deals with India MORE (Texas) and John ThuneJohn ThuneLawmakers want infrastructure funded by offshore tax reform Senate GOP hedges on ObamaCare repeal timeline Week ahead: Robocall crackdown tops FCC meeting agenda 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 GrahamGraham: 'I'm glad' Ivanka will be working in the White House Trump tweets promotion for Fox News show GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (R-S.C.) and Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteFEC commissioner to Trump: Prove voter fraud Live coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing Lewandowski saw no evidence of voter fraud in New Hampshire 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 LevinDevin Nunes has jeopardized the oversight role of Congress Ted Cruz wants to destroy the Senate as we know it A package proposal for repatriation 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 MurkowskiElle honors 10 at annual 'Women in Washington' event Five takeaways from Labor pick’s confirmation hearing ObamaCare repeal faces last obstacle before House vote 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 BrownDems question potential Kushner real estate deal with Chinese firm The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Senators war over Wall Street during hearing for Trump's SEC pick 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 HarkinTom HarkinGrassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Do candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? MORE (D-Iowa) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersSunday shows preview: Aftermath of failed healthcare bill Michael Moore warns Dems: Now is not the time to gloat Warren: 'Today is a great day... but I'm not doing a touchdown dance' 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 LandrieuMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Five unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist MORE (D-La.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinPence pushes Manchin in home state to support Gorsuch Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE (D-W.Va.) say they will vote "yes." 
 
—Erik Wasson contributed to this report.