Leaders stop budget defections

Leaders stop budget defections

House and Senate leaders appear to have minimized defections on their budget plans in a show of strength ahead of fiscal fights this summer.

The dueling blueprints from Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash: Trump incorrect in claiming Congress didn't subpoena Obama officials Democrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate MORE (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Biz groups say Warren labor plan would be disaster Freedom of the press under fire in Colorado MORE (D-Wash.) tested party unity on both sides, but a whip count by The Hill indicates leaders have enough support to pass them.

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None of the vulnerable, red-state Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2014 have so far come out against Murray’s budget despite the $1 trillion in tax hikes the plan contains. The party can only afford five defections in order for it to pass.

Similarly, in the House, only Rep. Paul BrounPaul Collins BrounJoe Lieberman's son running for Senate in Georgia California lawmaker's chief of staff resigns after indictment Republican candidates run against ghost of John Boehner MORE (R-Ga.) had as of Monday promised to vote against Ryan’s plan, indicating that GOP leaders will stay well below the 15-defections limit to approve the budget over unified Democratic opposition.

Neither budget resolution has a shot at being reconciled with the other, but both sides believe the votes — which could happen later this week — will give them leverage as they head into another high-stakes battle over the debt ceiling.

The budget votes could come at an electoral cost, particularly for Senate Democrats. 

Sen. Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusBottom line Overnight Defense: McCain honored in Capitol ceremony | Mattis extends border deployment | Trump to embark on four-country trip after midterms Congress gives McCain the highest honor MORE (D-Mont.), who is up for reelection in 2014, remains non-committal about the Murray plan. He was known to oppose language in the budget that instructs his Finance Committee to raise $975 billion in new tax revenue.

Sen. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichAlaska political mess has legislators divided over meeting place Former GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop Lobbying world MORE (Alaska), another vulnerable Democrat facing reelection, is “still continuing to review all options as part of his overall efforts to enforce real budget cuts,” his office said. 

Begich told The Hill this month that he would need to see real spending cuts in the budget plan. The Murray budget trims $285 billion from entitlements, but that falls short even of White House proposals. 

Centrist Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states Pence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa MORE (D-N.D.) was also not ready to commit on Monday after winning election to the Senate on a budget-cutting platform.

Democratic leadership aides told The Hill they are confident they will have the votes to pass the budget plan as it was advanced out of committee. 

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Murray, the chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, crossed possibly the biggest hurdle when she won the backing of Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders wishes Ocasio-Cortez happy birthday Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Sanders can gain ground by zeroing in on corruption MORE (I-Vt.) and centrists including Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenators take fundraising efforts to Nats playoff games Senate Intelligence report triggers new calls for action on election security Senate Intel report urges action to prevent Russian meddling in 2020 election MORE (D-Va.) and Angus KingAngus Stanley KingOvernight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine Democrats grill Army, Air Force nominees on military funding for border wall Bipartisan panel to issue recommendations for defending US against cyberattacks early next year MORE (I-Maine.) to send the budget resolution to the floor. 

Since then, two more Democratic senators up for reelection from red states have backed the budget plan: Sens. Tim JohnsonTimothy (Tim) Peter JohnsonTrump faces tough path to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac overhaul Several hurt when truck runs into minimum wage protesters in Michigan Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation MORE (S.D.) and Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuCongress needs to work to combat the poverty, abuse and neglect issues that children face Dems wrestle over how to vote on ‘Green New Deal’ Lobbying world MORE (La.).  

“The Senate budget proposal addresses the deficit in a fair and balanced way while moving America forward,” Johnson said. 

Liberal Sen. Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinWisconsin lawmaker gets buzz-cut after vowing not to cut hair until sign language bill passed Democratic debates kick off Iowa summer sprint Key endorsements: A who's who in early states MORE (D-Iowa) is also comfortable with the blueprint, an aide said. 

Senate Republicans hope to use the budget votes to exert maximum pain on red-state Democrats. They plan to offer “many” amendments, according to aides, and the number could climb north of 100.

One of the amendments aimed at vulnerable Democrats will call for a balanced budget. While the spending blueprint from Ryan in the House would come into balance in 10 years, Murray’s never would.

If just a few Democrats break with their party and help approve the balanced-budget amendment, the budget would likely become toxic to liberals and fail on the floor.

That would be a nightmare scenario for Democratic leaders, but it appears unlikely.

Ryan, meanwhile, will meet with Senate Republicans for lunch on Tuesday to try and rally support for his budget plan in the upper chamber. Senate Republicans are expected to vote on the House Budget Committee chairman’s blueprint this week, but do not plan to offer their own alternative.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz: 'Of course' it's not appropriate to ask China to investigate Bidens Sunday Show Preview: Trump's allies and administration defend decision on Syria O'Rourke raises .5 million in third quarter MORE (R-Texas) and other conservatives have criticized Ryan’s budget for not repealing all of President Obama’s healthcare reform law. The plan keeps $716 billion in Medicare cuts in place, but uses the savings to extend the solvency of the program. 

Centrist senators such as Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria McConnell tightlipped as impeachment furor grows Congress set for showdown with Trump over Kurds MORE (R-Maine) and Mark KirkMark Steven KirkGOP senator says he doesn't remember signing 2016 letter urging 'reform' of Ukraine prosecutor's office The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Advocates push for EpiPens on flights after college student's mid-flight allergic reaction MORE (R-Ill.) could balk at steep cuts to domestic discretionary programs and the implementation of a premium support system to compete with Medicare, both of which are called for in Ryan’s budget. 

Collins and Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMurkowski warns against rushing to conclusions on Trump impeachment GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe Republicans show signs of discomfort in defense of Trump   MORE (R-Alaska) voted in May of 2011 against a motion to consider a similar budget crafted by Ryan.

So far, Senate Republicans are alone in voicing skepticism about Ryan’s plan.

In the House, only Broun has forcefully come out against the budget even though it balances the budget six years later than many conservatives would like and keeps the tax hikes approved in the “fiscal cliff” deal. 

Last year, 10 Republicans voted against Ryan’s fiscal plan. But Ryan moved his proposal this year to the right, balancing the budget 15 years earlier than it would have before. 

Even rebel conservatives like Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) and Justin AmashJustin AmashAmash says he's happy not feeling 'bound to a particular party' Amash on Syria: Trump's not ending anything Trump says House Democrats 'unfortunately' have the votes to impeach MORE (R-Mich.) who voted “no” on the last Ryan budget were holding fire as of Monday. 

The powerful outside groups Club for Growth and Heritage Action were mum when asked about Ryan’s plan, even though they praised an alternative budget from the Republican Study Committee that would balance in four years.

Congressional leaders also appear to be on track to avoid a government shutdown.

A $984 billion spending bill to fund the government appears to have enough bipartisan support to clear the Senate with 60 votes.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidReid warns Democrats not to underestimate Trump Harry Reid predicts Trump, unlike Clinton, won't become more popular because of impeachment Al Franken to host SiriusXM radio show MORE (D-Nev.) vowed to pull out all the stops to avert a shutdown, and he forced a cloture vote to proceed to the bill on Monday. That vote succeeded 63-35.

Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiLobbying World Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Raskin embraces role as constitutional scholar MORE (D-Md.) and ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) were unable earlier in the day to whittle down the more than 90 amendments to the six-month spending bill.

Even though the Senate bill differs from the House version, there is little will in either party to shut down the government after March 27.

Alexander Bolton contributed to this report.