Senate Passage of Budget Bill on Track
There are already 4 Republican Senators who have said they will vote for cloture on Tuesday to allow the budget deal to come to the floor. John McCain of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Richard Burr of North Carolina have all indicated support for the measure, while a handful of other Republican Senators haven't made up their minds whether they'll vote for the bill but say they will probably vote for cloture.
The last week of the budget fight has amounted to an unusual role reversal for the House and Senate. For much of this Congress, it’s been the Senate that’s passed bipartisan deals, only to see House Republicans balk. But this time around, House Republicans — who were burned by the last government shutdown — pushed the bipartisan deal through their chamber, only to see their GOP counterparts in the Senate scoff at the measure.
The differing views speak to the party’s continued divide over fiscal strategy as conservative groups rail against the measure, and senators up for reelection or eying higher office — such as Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida — have all come out strongly against the plan.
The Senate developments come after the House gave overwhelming approval to the two-year budget bill Thursday evening, pushing the measure through on a resounding 332-94 bipartisan vote.
The big House vote appears to have convinced at least a handful of GOP senators to break a filibuster, but the margin is expected to be much narrower in the closely divided Senate.
Despite strong support from House Speaker John Boehner, Senate GOP leaders are expected to oppose the bill. GOP senators who are facing tea party-inspired challenges next year also are opposing the plan, including the defense hawk Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who said the proposal would cause “disproportionate harm” to military retirees. And an increasing number of GOP senators began to lash out at the proposal.
Democrats were surprised when one of McCain’s like-minded colleagues, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, announced she would oppose the bill. She — along with McCain and Graham — traveled the country last year warning of the dangers of the sequestration cuts to national security and was furious about the October government shutdown.
“I cannot support a budget agreement that fails to deal with the biggest drivers of our debt, but instead pays for more federal spending on the backs of our active duty and military retirees — those who have put their lives on the line to defend us,” Ayotte said.
Every Republican in a tough primary fight is voting against the bill while it looks like all the vulnerable red state Democrats will be voting for it. Political calculations aside, it is, indeed, a remarkable turnabout to see Senate Republicans -- who constantly complained about House Republicans gumming up the budget process -- now acting the part of obstructionists when a budget bill sails through the House.
We'll find out eleven months from now if any of this posturing and maneuvering actually mattered.