WASHINGTON — A bipartisan budget deal that sailed through the House on an overwhelming bipartisan vote is running into difficulty in the Senate, where Republicans - some furious, some conservative and some running for office – are vowing to vote against the measure, which would roll back broad spending cuts.
After two years of legislation passing the Senate with bipartisan support only to implode in a conservative firestorm on the House floor, myriad Senate Republican grievances have combined in a legislative twist, threatening the comity that was supposed to end the budget wars, at least for now.
The two Republican senators with presidential aspirations - Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky - are actively working up opposition. Republican senators running for re-election in 2014 and facing Tea Party challenges have all come out no or leaning no.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, is angry that his House Budget Committee counterpart, Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., left him out of the negotiations that produced the accord. And some Republicans cannot declare their support for the deal after the Democratic strong-arm tactics that changed the Senate’s rules and ended filibusters of presidential nominees.
Senators and aides from both parties said Friday that they expected the two-year budget agreement ultimately to pass next week on the strength of the House’s 332-94 vote, which lost the chamber’s most conservative and liberal members. Speaker John A. Boehner was leaning on Republican senators to come around, and enough senators were still undecided to assure passage if most of them decided in favor of the bill.
Some Republicans are likely to vote to break a filibuster, even if they intend to vote against final passage. That would all but ensure passage on the strength of Democratic support alone.
Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., said: “The fact of the matter is we’ve got to face up to this. At the end of the day, if you believe in my crystal ball, this gets the votes.”
But considering the deal has been hailed for days as a critical turning point in Washington’s dysfunctional descent, its difficulties are a surprise. So far, Sen. John McCain of Arizona is a declared Republican supporter, with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a likely yes, at least to end debate and allow a final up-or-down vote.
“I’m not OK with it, but I think it’s better than shutting down the government,” McCain said.