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 MurrayThe Prescription Drug User Fee Act must refrain from adding Right To Try provisions Dem senator: I don't know if Trump 'ever understood' ObamaCare Dems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity MORE (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanTougher Russia sanctions bill facing another setback CNN's Kohn, Ben Shapiro in Twitter spat after controversial 'killing spree' Ryan tweet Ryan: 'Prayers are being answered' for Scalise's recovery 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 ReidDems face identity crisis Heller under siege, even before healthcare Charles Koch thanks Harry Reid for helping his book sales 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 McCainOvernight Defense: Senate panel passes defense policy bill | House panel presses on with markup | Trump officials say WH statement prevented Syria chemical attack | NATO pledges to raise spending Senate panel passes 0B defense policy bill GOP infighting erupts over healthcare bill MORE (R-Ariz.) and Susan CollinsSusan CollinsHealthcare wish lists: What moderates, conservatives want Overnight Healthcare: GOP infighting erupts over bill | How Republican governors could bring down ObamaCare repeal | Schumer asks Trump to meet with Dems GOP infighting erupts over healthcare bill 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 FlakeOPINION: ObamaCare by another name is still ObamaCare Senate should seek to retain its 'blue slip' tradition for judicial nominees Progressives target Heller and Flake on Senate GOP bill 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 McConnellValerie Jarrett slams GOP for not including women in healthcare discussions Healthcare wish lists: What moderates, conservatives want Top GOP lawmaker questions tax break for wealthy in healthcare plan MORE (Ky.), John CornynJohn CornynGOP infighting erupts over healthcare bill Senators urge Trump to do right thing with arms sales to Taiwan Cornyn: Key vote to advance health bill likely Wednesday MORE (Texas) and John ThuneJohn ThuneBehind closed doors, tensions in the GOP Pro-Trump group pulls ads targeting GOP senator on ObamaCare repeal GOP chairman wants 'robust' tax reform process in the Senate 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 GrahamGOP senators want surveillance requests from FBI Russia probe Overnight Cybersecurity: New ransomware attack spreads globally | US pharma giant hit | House intel panel interviews Podesta | US, Kenya deepen cyber partnership Graham gets frustrated in public ‘unmasking’ debate MORE (R-S.C.) and Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteOPINION: Democracy will send ISIS to the same grave as communism Kelly Ayotte joins defense contractor's board of directors Week ahead: Comey firing dominates Washington 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 LevinTrump's crush on foreign autocrats threatens democracy at home OPINION: Congress must press forward with its Russia investigation Democrats and Republicans share blame in rewriting the role of the Senate 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 MurkowskiBudowsky: Rising up vs. TrumpCare Trump: Senate GOP 'very close' to agreement on health bill EPA head faces skeptical senators on budget cuts 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 BrownDem calls for Senate to recognize LGBT Pride month after Trump didn't Major progressive group rolls out first incumbent House endorsement Dems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity 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 HarkinDistance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream MORE (D-Iowa) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersNew Alexandra Pelosi documentary brings together GOP, Dem members Sanders: FBI inquiry of wife is 'pathetic' attack Why UK millennials voting for socialism could happen here, too 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 LandrieuTrump posts O'Keefe videos on Instagram O'Keefe video shows CNN's Van Jones calling Russia story a ‘nothingburger’ White House encourages viewing of anti-CNN James O'Keefe video MORE (D-La.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinFood Network star honors veterans with dessert feast Dems face identity crisis This week: Senate races toward ObamaCare repeal vote MORE (D-W.Va.) say they will vote "yes." 
 
—Erik Wasson contributed to this report.