The PJ Tatler

Schumer: McConnell Knows Budget 'Can't Go Down' After Strong House Vote

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said most of his caucus is behind the Ryan-Murray budget agreement that’s expected to come to the floor of the upper chamber tomorrow.

“I think it’s a pretty safe bet it’s gonna pass,” Schumer told MSNBC today. “After what happened in the House, where so many Republicans voted for it, I think Mitch McConnell, the Republican leadership knows they can’t let it go down.”

Still, despite 332-94 passage in the House, the bill has its high-profile Republican detractors, many of them facing primary challenges.

“After careful review of the agreement, I believe it will do disproportionate harm to our military retirees,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Our men and women in uniform have served admirably during some of our nation’s most troubling times. They deserve more from us in their retirement than this agreement provides.”

The chairman of that committee, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), said he understands the concern about the budget cutting into military pensions, but stressed that his panel “is going to review this change after we convene next year, before it takes effect in December 2015.”

“There is also an ongoing comprehensive review of the military retirement and compensation systems being conducted by the Military Retirement and Compensation Modernization Commission established by Congress last year for that purpose, which may further bear on this issue,” Levin said.

Schumer promised “we’ll have almost all the Democratic votes” for Ryan-Murray, even without the inclusion of an unemployment insurance extension. Democratic leaders have indicated they’ll bring that to the floor separately, likely after the holidays with a provision to make the benefits retroactive.

“I think most Democrats, realizing that government shutdown is a brutal alternative, will reluctantly vote for it,” he said of the budget. “Well, look, I think Paul Ryan and Patty Murray looked everywhere the could to try and find compromise and everybody had to take a little. Civilian federal employees have been cut, cut, cut. And I think there was a feeling, if you’re gonna cut them further, which was done, that the military retirees should have about an equal amount. It’s small.”

“So, but the bottom line is that I don’t — it’s a safe bet, pretty safe bet, McConnell would not let this go down. Four Republicans have already said they’d be for it, and I’m sure the Republican leadership, I would be, is not gonna risk another government shutdown. The vote in the House made that certain. Before the vote in the House, overwhelming for it on the Republican side, and on the Democratic side, it might have been a fear. The House — the House, for the first time was stepped up to the bipartisan plate, the Senate has been doing it, the House did this time.”

Schumer said he thinks it’s frustration with the tea party that had Republicans “willing to sit down and compromise, have finally said enough.”

“And next year, I think, we are going to get certainly — not certainly, but much more likely, a farm bill, immigration reform, because in the Senate. In the Senate, Democrats and Republicans have started to work together, not on the big budget deal yet, but on other things,” he added. “In the House, they couldn’t do a thing.”