Counting budget votes

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are busy counting votes for their respective budgets.

In fact, leaders on both sides of the Capitol are conducting whip counts to determine if they can get a simple majority to pass the rival blueprints released on Tuesday.

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Ryan can afford only 15 defections and Murray only five, assuming all members vote and the minority in each chamber is unanimously opposed.

House GOP leaders ran into major difficulties whipping high-profile bills in the last Congress, but Ryan’s budgets passed with relative ease.

The Republican majority, however, is narrower than it was last year, and it is unclear whether some of the new GOP freshmen will embrace Ryan’s budget.

As head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.) went after Ryan’s budget relentlessly in the 2012 election cycle. House Republicans ended up retaining their majority, but Democrats exceeded expectations by picking up a net eight seats.

In an interview with The Hill late last year, Israel said he was not sure if Ryan’s budget would be the focus of the House Democrats’ campaign strategy in 2014.

The response was understandable, as an election cycle had just ended and “fiscal cliff” negotiations were under way that could affect campaign tactics in 2014.

“In my view, a good message is integrated into the reality of the time … You embrace the reality and then make sure the message fits the reality,” Israel said at the time.

Fast-forward several months. The fiscal-cliff deal was passed with no major reforms to entitlement programs. Meanwhile, Ryan has doubled down, and his new version balances the budget within a decade. Israel put out a press release on Tuesday ripping the GOP budget, which will surely be used as a candidate-recruitment tool.

The political pressure on vulnerable members of the House GOP could make it tough for Republicans to round up the necessary votes in the lower chamber. Ten Republicans voted against Ryan’s plan in 2012, though two of those members are no longer serving and another couple might be swayed by the changes made this year.

Murray is likely to have more difficulty in securing a majority of votes. Her new budget includes nearly $1 trillion in new taxes and it would not balance the budget.

That might get her the pivotal vote of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at the committee level, though it probably won’t sit well with the handful of red-state Democrats who are up for reelection in 2014.

To find out if Ryan and Murray will get the votes, check TheHill.com for The Hill’s constantly updated whip counts on the House and Senate budget measures.