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.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
"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. 
 
Several other members of leadership, including Sens. John CornynJohn CornynThune calls Trump remarks on lynching 'inappropriate' Cash surge puts more Senate races in play Trump slams 'very dumb' O'Rourke for proposals on guns, tax exempt status for churches MORE (R-Texas) and Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSenate GOP braces for impeachment trial 'roller coaster' Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes MORE (R-Mo.), confirmed that the budget vote will take place around noon Thursday. 
 
 
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 RomneyOvernight Defense: Trump's Syria envoy wasn't consulted on withdrawal | McConnell offers resolution urging Trump to rethink Syria | Diplomat says Ukraine aid was tied to political investigations Trump's Syria envoy says he wasn't consulted on troop withdrawal Trump 'lynching' comparison draws backlash from lawmakers MORE (Utah), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHouse passes bill taking aim at anonymous shell companies Turkey says soldier killed despite cease-fire in Syria White House staggers after tumultuous 48 hours MORE (Fla.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate Democrats to hold caucus meeting Wednesday with ex-ISIS envoy Partisan squabbles endanger congressional response to Trump's course on Syria Paul blocks vote on House-passed Syria resolution for second time 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 TillisCash surge puts more Senate races in play Tillis says impeachment is 'a waste of resources' GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe MORE (N.C.) and Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottWhite House spokesman: Trump didn't mean to compare his experience with 'darkest moments' in US history Blood cancer patients deserve equal access to the cure Rand Paul: 'We deserve to know' identity of Trump whistleblower 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."