Senate to Hold Key Vote on Budget

Conservative Republicans skeptical of budget compromise as vote is scheduled.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., right speaks while flanked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., during a news conference on Capitol Hill, on December 12, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
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It's not every day Congress finishes its work a month ahead of deadline.

But Tuesday, the Senate will be on track to do just that. The Senate will vote on a budget bill this week that will keep Congress from a government shutdown in January.

Lawmakers are voting on an $85 billion budget deal that is expected to narrowly overcome a procedural hurdle. The vote is expected to be much closer than it was in the Republican - controlled House where it passed Thursday by a 332 to 94 vote margin.

The Democrats' vote counter, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., insists he has strong Democratic support for the compromise bill.

"We will need about eight Republicans to come our way," Durbin said Sunday during an appearance on CBS's Face the Nation. "I feel we'll have a good strong showing from the Democratic side, but we need bipartisan support to pass it."

[READ: John Boehner Unchained: Why the House Speaker Finally Stood Up To the Far Right]

The real question lies with conservative Republicans who have voiced reservations that the budget deal negotiated by Rep. Paul Ryan, R.-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D.-Wash., does not reduce the federal deficit enough.

A coalition of potential 2016 presidential contenders including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen. Ted Cruz are opposed to the bill.

Some Republican defense hawks including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., came out against the bill because it reduces military retirees' cost of living benefits by one percent.

The legislation has even further divided the Republican party as outside campaign groups ratchet up pressure on members to vote against the bill.

Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, both up for reelection in 2014 against primary challengers, have hinted they are likely 'no' votes.

[ALSO: Democrats Raise $5.1 Million in November]

The compromise budget deal would reduce the federal deficit by $23 billion over the next two years and restore $63 billion to federal programs affected by the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.

While many Republicans are on the fence, some argue the deal is a better option for the party and the country than bouncing from one fiscal crisis to another.

"Sometimes the answer has to be yes," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said in a statement Monday. "The reality is that Republicans only control one half of one third of government. Ultimately, this agreement upholds the principles conservatives stand for."

Many Democrats who are supporting the bill also agree it is far from perfect.

"While the bipartisan budget isn't the exact budget I would have crafted, I will support the measure because it's good for jobs and our economy," Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D.-N.H., said in a statement Monday. "This budget will create certainty for small businesses and families and help boost economic growth, create jobs and avoid another government shutdown. It represents the kind of compromise and cooperation that people in New Hampshire and across the country expect from their leaders in Washington."

 

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Corrected 12/17/13: The party identifications of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Paul Ryan were misindentified.