Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty MurrayPatty MurrayInspector general reviewing HHS decision to halt ObamaCare ads Dems mock House GOP over lack of women in healthcare meeting The Hill’s Whip List: 28 Dems are against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE (D-Wash.) faces two significant challenges this week.
She is working on a spending bill that would avert a government shutdown, and she is simultaneously crafting a budget resolution that will be difficult to pass.
The appropriation measure is expected to clear Congress with bipartisan support before Washington runs out of appropriated money later this month.
But the budget measure is not going to be so easy.
Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget resolution in four years, and they have enjoyed less and less the constant ribbing for it that they have received from the GOP.
Murray’s budget faces major hurdles, the first of which is the composition of her panel. Democrats only have a 12-10 majority, which means that if all Republicans vote no, Murray can afford not even one defection. That means convincing Sens. Mark WarnerMark WarnerTop Senate Intel Dem: Nunes's meeting on WH grounds 'more than suspicious' Sunday shows preview: Aftermath of failed healthcare bill Devin Nunes has jeopardized the oversight role of Congress MORE (D-Va.), Tim KaineTim KaineTrump supporters call for Kaine's son and other protesters to be prosecuted Senators demand Pentagon action after nude photo scandal RNC drops six-figure ad buy for Supreme Court, healthcare fight MORE (D-Va.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersIn California race, social justice wing of Democrats finally comes of age Sanders to headline progressive 'People's Summit' The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (I-Vt.) and Angus KingAngus KingLawmakers call for pilot program to test for energy sector vulnerabilities Path to 60 narrows for Trump pick Week ahead: House Intel chair under fire over Trump surveillance claims MORE (I-Maine) all to vote yes on the same measure. They are not men who see the world and policy in similar ways.
Sanders, a sharp critic of any suggestion that entitlement programs be cut, last week told The Hill that the budget talks have been “very hard.”
Sen. Ron WydenRon WydenDem lawmakers push for FCC to tackle major cellphone security flaw Dem senator wants ethics probe of Mnuchin ‘Lego Batman’ plug Overnight Finance: Trump stock slump | GOP looks to tax bill for lifeline | Trump repeals 'blacklisting rule' | Dem wants ethics probe into Treasury secretary MORE (D-Ore.), another Budget panel member, said, “A Senate budget debate is never for the faint of heart, and this year is going to be especially difficult.”
Should Murray get her budget through committee, more stumbling blocks await on the floor.
Democratic senators from red states who face reelection battles next year will have to be courted. This group includes Sens. Max BaucusMax BaucusGOP hasn’t reached out to centrist Dem senators Five reasons why Tillerson is likely to get through Business groups express support for Branstad nomination MORE (Mont.), Mark BegichMark BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE (Alaska), Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE (N.C.), Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting MORE (S.D.), Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Five unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist MORE (La.) and Mark PryorMark PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (Ark.).
Other Democrats who could balk at the budget include Sens. Joe DonnellyJoe DonnellyNRA launches M Supreme Court ad With GOP’s healthcare bill on ice, Dems go on offense Path to 60 narrows for Trump pick MORE (Ind.), Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampNRA launches M Supreme Court ad Centrist Democrat calls for up-or-down vote for Gorsuch GOP senator on going nuclear: 'I really hope that it doesn't come to that' MORE (N.D.), Joe ManchinJoe ManchinLawmakers call for pilot program to test for energy sector vulnerabilities Centrist Democrat calls for up-or-down vote for Gorsuch GOP senator on going nuclear: 'I really hope that it doesn't come to that' MORE (W.Va.) and Jon TesterJon TesterNRA launches M Supreme Court ad Can Trump rebound after failure on healthcare bill? Path to 60 narrows for Trump pick MORE (Mont.).
Murray and her fellow Democratic leaders can afford only five defections. If Democrats don’t get 51 votes, senators’ pay will be suspended, as stipulated in a bill that became law last month.
But it is worth noting that Murray is on a roll. She helped expand the Democratic majority last year as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and later was rewarded with her Budget gavel.
Still, passing this bill might prove an even bigger challenge than tightening her party’s hold on the upper chamber.