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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 MurraySecond Dem calls for probe into Russian election involvement Reid defends relationship with McConnell in farewell speech Top Dem signals likely opposition to Sessions nomination MORE (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanRyan appears on Hannity's show President Obama should curb mass incarceration with clemency Senators move to protect 'Dreamers' 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 ReidReid: Comey should be investigated in wake of Russia report Spokesman: NY Times ignored Reid's comments in pre-election story on Russia Senate passes dozens of bills on way out of town 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 McCainSunday shows preview: Trump sits down with Fox McCain: Tillerson ties to Putin a 'matter of concern' Second Dem calls for probe into Russian election involvement MORE (R-Ariz.) and Susan CollinsSusan CollinsDems, greens gear up for fight against Trump EPA pick Medicare looms over Trump-Ryan alliance Senators crafting bill to limit deportations under Trump 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 FlakeSenators move to protect 'Dreamers' Reid bids farewell to the Senate Reid defends relationship with McConnell in farewell speech 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 PryorCotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Top Democrats are no advocates for DC statehood MORE (Ark.), a vulnerable incumbent, are wavering on the vote.
 
The top three Senate Republican leaders — Sens. Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellRepublican wins La. Senate runoff in final 2016 race Heitkamp is Trump's top choice for Agriculture secretary: report Schumer calls for Senate probe into Russian interference MORE (Ky.), John CornynJohn CornynGOP senator: Russian hacking 'hardly news' Senators move to protect 'Dreamers' Democrats back down from shutdown threat MORE (Texas) and John ThuneJohn ThuneOvernight Tech: Last-ditch effort to get Dem FCC commish confirmed | Facebook's Sandberg on fake news | Microsoft completes LinkedIn deal FCC chairman willing to resign to get colleague confirmed Overnight Tech: AT&T, Time Warner CEOs defend merger before Congress | More tech execs join Trump team | Republican details path to undoing net neutrality 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 GrahamDemocrats unnerved by Trump's reliance on generals Graham slams Russia Second Dem calls for probe into Russian election involvement MORE (R-S.C.) and Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteDem senator tears up in farewell speech Juan Williams: McConnell won big by blocking Obama Battle brews over Trump’s foreign policy 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 Levin'Nuclear option' for Supreme Court nominees will damage Senate McCain's Supreme Court strategy leads to nuclear Senate The Fed and a return to banking simplicity 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 MurkowskiSenators move to protect 'Dreamers' Speaker’s office: No energy bill this year Passing US-Canada preclearance would improve security and economy 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 BrownSenate passes stopgap funding bill, averting shutdown Senate advances funding measure, avoiding shutdown Stopgap funding bill poised to pass Senate before midnight deadline 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: Trump sits down with Fox Democrats: Where the hell are You? Sanders on Trump pick: This is how a rigged economy works 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 LandrieuFive unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist Trump’s implosion could cost GOP in Louisiana Senate race MORE (D-La.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinGOP senator presses Trump to back miners' benefits What gun groups want from Trump Senate passes stopgap funding bill, averting shutdown MORE (D-W.Va.) say they will vote "yes." 
 
—Erik Wasson contributed to this report.