The Senate on Tuesday voted to end debate on a two-year budget deal in a 67-33 vote, setting the measure up for a final vote on Wednesday.
Twelve Senate Republicans joined all 55 Democrats and independents to advance the bipartisan budget deal approved in a landslide House vote last week. President Obama also supports the measure.
With Tuesday's vote, the Senate invoked cloture on the measure, setting up a final 30 hours of debate. That means a final vote would come Wednesday at 4:40, unless senators decide to allow an earlier vote.
There had been some thought that the final vote could come as early as Tuesday, but an aide to Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' Capito grills EPA nominee on '#ResistCapitalism' tweet Hassan launches first ad of reelection bid focusing on veterans' issues MORE (R-Ken.), speaking after Senate Republicans held a caucus meeting over lunch, said the final vote would come on Wednesday.
The bill sets top-line spending levels for 2014 and 2015 and reduces the sequester spending cuts by $63 billion over the next two years.
Despite opposition from conservative groups such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action, GOP Sens. Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissEffective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests Live coverage: Georgia Senate runoffs Trump, Biden face new head-to-head contest in Georgia MORE (Ga.), John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenThe 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators MORE (N.D.), Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderAuthorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate The Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain MORE (Tenn.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOvernight On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — GOP senator: It's 'foolish' to buy Treasury bonds Senate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken McConnell: Republicans 'united in opposition to raising the debt ceiling' MORE (Ohio), Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP hopes spending traps derail Biden agenda A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Senate passes infrastructure bill, budget resolution; Cuomo resigns MORE (Mo.), John McCainJohn Sidney McCain20 years after 9/11, US foreign policy still struggles for balance What the chaos in Afghanistan can remind us about the importance of protecting democracy at home 'The View' plans series of conservative women as temporary McCain replacements MORE (Ariz.), Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonCritical race theory becomes focus of midterms Former Georgia ethics official to challenge McBath Loeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run MORE (Ga.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchCongress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears The national action imperative to achieve 30 by 30 MORE (Utah), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWelcome to ground zero of climate chaos A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate Bipartisan blip: Infrastructure deal is last of its kind without systemic change MORE (Maine), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeBiden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Voting rights will be on '22, '24 ballots MORE (Ariz.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiRepublican leaders misjudged Jan. 6 committee Trump endorses GOP challenger to Upton over impeachment vote Businesses want Congress to support safe, quality jobs — so do nearly all Americans MORE (Alaska) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senator: Buying Treasury bonds 'foolish' amid standoff over debt ceiling, taxes Internal poll shows Barnes with 29-point lead in Wisconsin Democratic Senate primary Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate facing 4 felony charges MORE (Wis.) voted to end debate on the measure.
The rest of the GOP conference, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) — who faces a tough reelection race next year — voted against it.
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That’s a shift from the House, where GOP leaders and a majority of Republicans backed the deal brokered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan says it's 'really clear' Biden won election: 'It was not rigged. It was not stolen' Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms To cut poverty and solve the labor shortage, enhance the Earned Income Tax Credit MORE (R-Wis.), who actively lobbied members in both chambers to support it.
Ryan boasted that the bill would cut budget deficits by $23 billion in the long run and represented the reality that with divided government, compromise was essential. He also argued the bill would prevent a repeat of the government shutdown that hurt the GOP in the fall.
After the Senate clears the bill and it is signed by the president, appropriators will work on hashing out an omnibus spending bill for the rest of the fiscal year. Congress will need to approve that bill by mid-January to prevent a shutdown.
“We have not been able to do our Appropriations Committee work because we have not had a top line,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiHarris invites every female senator to dinner next week Will the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? Bottom line MORE (D-Md.) said in praising the deal. “This enables us to have one for 2014.”
Conservative groups argued the bill actually increased spending over the next two years by turning off the sequester, and bickered with BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbying world A new kind of hero? Last week's emotional TV may be a sign GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger MORE last week over the decision to move it.
Ryan negotiated the deal with Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayConservation group says it will only endorse Democrats who support .5T spending plan Support the budget resolution to ensure a critical investment in child care Senate Democrats try to defuse GOP budget drama MORE (D-Wash.), who said the bill was a first step toward rebuilding a broken budget process.
“We’ve spent far too long here scrambling to fix artificial crises instead of working together to solve the big problems we all know we need to address,” she said.
Republicans in the Senate who backed the deal included a number of appropriators. Hoeven said his decision was born out of discussions with other Republicans on the spending panel.
"Now we can go ahead and start prioritizing spending ... so the dollars we spend are spent more wisely," he said.
Hoeven said committee members are already hashing out the giant omnibus bill implementing the budget and could release an outline this week.
Johnson said that he had talked to Ryan in recent days about the deal but Ryan didn't have to persuade him.
"He didn't have to sell me on it. I knew what he was trying to accomplish," Johnson said.
The bill includes a House amendment to prevent a cut in physician payments under Medicare known as the “doc fix.” For three months, it would give Medicare doctors a 0.5 percent payment increase through the end of March.
It would also give Congress three months to permanently fix the problem, although Congress has been unable to do that for years. The Congressional Budget Office said the three-month bill would cost $8.7 billion.
To offset the restored sequester cuts, the bill would reduce federal employee retirement benefits by $6 billion. Military retiree benefits are also cut by $6 billion.
The bill raises airline security fees from $2.50 to $5.60 per ticket, and includes $28 billion in future cuts to Medicare fees. The deal also uses revenue from new oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and from higher premiums on government-backed private sector pensions.
Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerTop Republican: General told senators he opposed Afghanistan withdrawal NY Democrat tests positive for COVID-19 in latest House breakthrough case Florida Democrat becomes latest breakthrough COVID-19 case in House MORE (R-Miss.) said the cut to military retiree benefits was the main reason he opposed the bill.
“My objection that moves me from undecided to a no is what this budget does to current and future military retirees,” Wicker said ahead of the vote. “It breaks a promise. ... We can find $6 billion elsewhere without breaking a promise.”
A notable “no” vote was Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranBottom line Bottom line Alabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future MORE (R-Miss.), the ranking member on the defense appropriations committee who has been concerned about the sequester's effect on the military.
Cochran, however, has drawn a primary challenge from Tea Party-backed Chris McDaniel, who opposed the deal.
“My expectation was that the sequester cuts built into that law would compel the administration and Congress to enact broad reforms to control growth in mandatory programs, which poses the greatest threat to the economy and our nation’s fiscal standing. That has not happened,” Cochran said in a statement on his vote.
McDaniel in a statement blasted Cochran for not working harder to defeat the deal.
—This story was first published at 10:28 a.m. and last updated at 2:37 p.m.