Senate kicks budget vote to Thursday amid questions over GOP support

The Senate has kicked the vote on a two-year budget and debt ceiling deal to Thursday amid lingering questions about whether a majority of Republicans will back the agreement. 
 
GOP senators emerged from a closed-door lunch Wednesday saying they expected the budget vote would take place Thursday around noon.
 
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Asked if senators would have the votes to pass the budget deal, Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial McConnell: Senate impeachment trial will begin in January McConnell: Senate will not take up new NAFTA deal this year MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, warned that "failure is not an option." 
 
"We'll find out tomorrow. But we've been working it, as you know, and the Democrats and the Republicans are both going to have to deliver votes for this, but I would say failure is not an option," Thune said. 
 
"You've got a lot of members who are very eager to vote for it," he added. "But you know all these votes, any spending vote or debt limit vote is never easy. … We've got members who obviously are probably not going to vote for it." 
 
The budget vote wasn't formally scheduled for Wednesday. But the timing is a shift from Senate Democratic scheduling updates, which noted as recently as earlier Wednesday morning that a vote on the spending deal was expected Wednesday. Thune also said Republicans had hoped to be able to leave for the August recess on Wednesday. 
 
 
 
The Thursday vote comes amid lingering doubts about whether Republicans will be able to win a majority of their 53 senators to support the spending package, which cleared the House last week with only 65 GOP lawmakers voting for it. 
 
GOP leadership has been urging members to support the bill, arguing it provides a needed boost to defense spending and that the alternative was a debt default and deep spending cuts.
 
“This is the right deal for our national defense. It’s the right deal because it ensures the United States maintains its full faith and credit. ... I don’t think any senators are actually rooting for a destabilizing continuing resolution. I certainly don’t think any senators are rooting for a debt limit crisis,” McConnell said during a floor speech earlier Wednesday.
 
But Thune, who succeeded Cornyn as the chief GOP vote counter, was more cautious.
 
"We're continuing to work our members and we're hoping we're going to have a good strong showing," Thune said, asked about GOP support. 
 
Roughly a dozen GOP senators, including Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyBombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Mellman: Looking to Iowa Potential Dem defectors face pressure on impeachment MORE (Utah), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP senator blocks bill aimed at preventing Russia election meddling Group of veterans call on lawmakers to support impeachment, 'put country over politics' Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments MORE (Fla.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulMellman: Looking to Iowa Pelosi gets standing ovation at Kennedy Center Honors Senate braces for brawl on Trump impeachment rules MORE (Ky.), have said they would oppose the budget deal despite Trump's blessing for the agreement. Several other Republican senators, including Sens. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisGroup of veterans call on lawmakers to support impeachment, 'put country over politics' The real US patent 'crisis' Graham: FBI investigation in 2016 turned into a 'criminal conspiracy' MORE (N.C.) and Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottTrump to sign order penalizing colleges over perceived anti-Semitism on campus: report Here are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump GOP senators unveil bill to expand 'opportunity zone' reporting requirements MORE (S.C.), remain on the fence. 
 
Sixteen GOP senators voted against a 2018 budget deal. Dozens have voted against previous agreements, making it likely there will be additional GOP "no" votes announced.
 
Several reasons were floated by senators as the thinking behind delaying the budget vote until Thursday including efforts to give Republicans more time to lock down GOP votes or using the vote as a way to keep members in town for an unrelated asylum bill that will get a vote Thursday in the Judiciary Committee. 
 
"I think Sen. Schumer would like for us to finish our work tonight and avoid the mark up in Judiciary tomorrow," Cornyn told reporters, asked why Republicans would delay the budget vote until Thursday. 
 
As Republicans were in their lunch on Wednesday, Schumer walked by a group of reporters who were waiting outside the GOP meeting. Deepening his voice, in an apparent attempt to mimic McConnell, he said, "well we had a very good meeting but we don’t have enough votes to get the budget bill through.”

Blunt said there could be "lots of reasons" for holding the vote on Thursday. 
 
"They might want to keep everyone here to get all of these confirmations done. … They want to maximize the vote would be another," he told reporters. 
 
Asked about Cornyn's suggestion he said "that could be a third reason." 
 
"I know that was discussed by some of the people on the Judiciary Committee yesterday," he added, "but I don't know that it was discussed with the leader."