GOP trying to shore up support on budget deal

GOP trying to shore up support on budget deal
© Greg Nash

Senate Republican leadership is racing to lock down GOP votes for a massive two-year budget and debt ceiling deal that needs to pass before lawmakers leave for the August recess.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneImpeachment threatens to drown out everything Republicans show signs of discomfort in defense of Trump   Embracing President Mike Pence might be GOP's best play MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Republican senator, indicated on Tuesday that they didn't yet have a majority of Republicans on board to support the agreement but were working to get there before it gets a vote.

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"Well, we're in the process of working that vote. I'm hopeful and optimistic that when the time comes that we'll have the votes we need to get it done," Thune told reporters when asked if they would have the support of at least half the Republican conference.

The push to shore up Republican support for the two-year budget agreement, which also suspends the debt ceiling through mid-2021, comes after House Republicans defected in droves to oppose President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani says he is unaware of reported federal investigation Louisiana's Democratic governor forced into runoff Lawmakers focus their ire on NBA, not China MORE's budget deal when it came up for a vote last week.

Sixty-five House Republicans supported the agreement, while 132 voted against it. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMattis warns 'ISIS will resurge' without U.S. pressure on Syria McConnell tightlipped as impeachment furor grows Hillicon Valley: Google, Reddit to testify on tech industry protections | Trump joins Amazon-owned Twitch | House to vote on bill to combat foreign interference MORE (R-Ky.) stressed the need to pass the budget agreement as well as a final slate of nominations before the chamber leaves Washington until early September. 

"Everybody understands what the list of items that need to be completed are, and we will do that before we leave. There will be no departure until we finish all the items on our agenda," McConnell told reporters during a weekly press conference on Tuesday.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyMeet Trump's most trusted pollsters Contractors fight for pay from last shutdown — and the next one Trump signs stopgap measure, funding government through November MORE (R-Ala.) said he thought the budget deal would pass but warned there would be "chaos" if it didn't.

Asked if it would be politically embarrassing for Trump if a majority of Republicans opposed a deal he had endorsed, Shelby demurred.

"Politically embarrassing? That's a strong word," he said. "I would wish all the Republicans would join in and all the Democrats, but that never happens. Would it be politically embarrassing? As long as we win it won't be embarrassing. If they fail to pass that bill, it would be a huge setback for everybody."

The Senate is expected to vote on the budget agreement as soon as Wednesday. Sixteen Republicans voted against a 2018 budget deal. 

More than a dozen Senate Republicans have said they will vote against the current budget deal, with several others indicating they are leaning against it but haven't made up their minds. 

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFive ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble Rubio hits Warren's 'crude' and 'vulgar' response to opposition to same-sex marriage Trump puts election-year politics at center of impeachment case MORE (R-Fla.) announced on Monday night that he was a no vote, saying, "In a town in which Republicans and Democrats can't agree on anything, the one thing they can agree on is running up the debt and spending a bunch of money." 

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) said on Tuesday that he was also a no vote because the agreement "continues our deficit spending without much of an effort, if any, to try to save money."