Budget Deal Likely To Pass Senate Easily
Notwithstanding some concerns that Democrats may not have the votes to pass the Ryan/Murray Budget when it comes up for a vote tomorrow, and a steady drumbeat of pressure from Tea Party groups such as Freedomworks and Club For Growth for Republican Senators to vote “No”on both cloture and on the final bill, it looks as though the compromise bill will ultimately end up passing the Senate easily:
With the budget drama heading into its final act in the Senate on Tuesday, tensions surrounding the fate of the two-year deal are dissipating, with Republicans signaling they will not block the measure.
Leery of saying how they would vote before the House overwhelmingly approved the deal on Thursday, Senate Republicans opened up on Friday. GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake and John McCain of Arizona said they would vote for cloture, and others indicated they’re considering it.
Despite the reluctance of some members to say how they would vote, the mood among senators on Friday bordered on upbeat.
“I think it represents a sincere effort to compromise, move us forward, and end this lurching from crisis to crisis that has been so damaging to the economy and to people’s confidence in government,” said Collins, who is also likely to vote yes on the legislation.
Even Republicans who oppose the deal brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray predict the compromise budget would make appropriating easier.
“We’ll work with whatever the number is,” said Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Richard Shelby, R-Ala. “I’ve always said if we had a number, we ought to go by the number, and if we get the number—and I think we will, who knows?—I believe the appropriations process will start working.”
While Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., opposes the budget because it exceeds the caps set by the Budget Control Act—the best vote he ever took in the Senate, he said—he’s considering voting for cloture and suggested he’s fed up with the importance with which cloture votes are now treated. Outside groups, particularly conservative organizations, have begun to score even the procedural votes.
“Always the deciding factor was how you voted on the piece of legislation, not whether you voted to end debate or not end debate,” Corker said. “So I’m thinking: Is it time to end this debate on this issue?”
Corker said he thinks the Senate will move beyond the procedural hurdle, which is expected to come up Tuesday.
McCain, as well as a number of other Republicans, reasoned that defeating the legislation would be tantamount to paving the way for another shutdown, which proved politically disastrous for the GOP in October.
“I’m not OK with it,” he said. “But I think it’s better than shutting down the government.”
Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., who faces a primary challenge from conservative state Sen. Chris McDaniel next year, said he is still weighing his options on both the cloture vote and the underlying bill. Cochran brushed off questions about whether his challenge from McDaniel, who has the support of several conservative outside groups, is a factor in his decision-making.
Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska, who is retiring at the end of next year, is considering his options, but said that he is considering voting for cloture while opposing the overall bill. “I’m very concerned about the package, but I can also see the merits of a two-year deal,” he said Friday. “So I want the weekend to think about it and I’ll make a decision.”
But Johanns and several other Republican senators predicted that the bill will pass easily, arguing that lawmakers are wary of entering the holidays with the specter of another government shutdown in January hanging over their heads.
Also likely influencing Republicans in the Senate in how they react to the bill is the fact that it passed the House with an impressive 330+ votes, and only garnered “No” votes from about 26% of the House GOP Caucus, hardly signs of a rebellion from the conservative wing of the House GOP. Given that, the idea that it would fail in the Senate, which has a reputation for being far more moderate than its counterpart across the Rotunda. In the end, you’ll likely see a not inconsiderable number of Republicans cross the aisle to vote in favor of invoking cloture at the appropriate time, even if they ultimately end up voting for the bill. Once over the cloture hump, and recall that there are two cloture votes in the Senate, one to open debate and the other to close it, the bill will clearly pass easily just based on Democratic votes alone, although its likely to garner at least some Republican votes.
Right now, the initial cloture vote on the budget is scheduled for tomorrow, which means that final votes would take place either Thursday or Friday.