GOP Skepticism Unlikely to Derail Bipartisan Budget Deal

PHOTO: John McCain speaks during The Daily Beasts 2nd Annual Hero Summit, on Oct. 10, 2013 in Washington.Kris Connor/Getty Images
John McCain speaks during The Daily Beast's 2nd Annual Hero Summit, on Oct. 10, 2013 in Washington.

Many Republicans have rebuked the bipartisan budget deal, but Senate Democrats are within reach of enough GOP votes to overcome a filibuster threat next week, placing it one step from President Obama's desk before Christmas.

If Democrats are able to maintain the support of all 55 of their party's senators, they would need five Republicans to vote in favor of ending debate on the bill. And five Senate Republicans told ABC News they would be willing to help Democrats reach the 60 votes needed on the procedural vote.

"It would help prevent us from continuing to lurch from crisis to crisis," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who noted that the budget bill wasn't ideal, but preferable to the prospect of another government shutdown early next year.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she would also likely support the legislation, declaring, "Do I like all of the stuff in it? No. We want to avoid another shutdown."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said it was time to call a truce on budget fights that have consumed Capitol Hill for much of the year. He said he intended to support the measure next week.

"It would be outrageous for us to shut down the government again," McCain told reporters. "I'm not going to do that to my constituents."

An aide to Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said the North Carolina would back cloture, or ending debate on the bill, and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told ABC News he would vote in favor of cloture but was leaning against voting for the bill itself.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to file cloture on the House approved budget Sunday, setting up the major test vote Tuesday on the budget plan that would effectively call a truce to a series of budget crises that have paralyzed Washington for more than two years.

Even if the procedural hurdle is cleared with the help of Republicans, skepticism in the Senate runs considerably deeper than in the House, where the budget deal passed Thursday night on a vote of 332 to 94. Senators said they were particularly concerned the agreement exceeded the spending caps outlined in the Budget Control Act of 2011, the law signed to avert a fiscal crisis and default two years ago.

"Senate Republicans are more reluctant to give up any of the Budget control Act," Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said, adding that he was still reviewing the agreement and hadn't decided whether to support it. But he said he thought the deal would ultimately pass, saying, "It's hard to imagine it would be replaced by a better agreement."

Several Republican senators told ABC News in interviews Friday that they would not support the deal, which is opposed by tea party and outside conservative groups. Most, if not all, of the GOP senators facing re-election challenges next year are opposed to the bill.

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Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said he was still reviewing the budget agreement. He said it was important to note that senators could still make adjustments next year during the appropriations process, when money is allocated to specific departments.

"People need to take a hard look and recognize there will be an opportunity to address some concerns," Hoeven said.

But while Republican senators are still making up their minds on the bill, some predicted it would pass the Senate next week.

"There's a lot about this I don't like, but the fact of the matter is we've got to face up to this between now and mid January," said Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., who is retiring next year and undecided on how he will vote on the budget.

"Therein lies the difficulty. And it's not sufficient to say we'll let the government shut down. We saw how that works. People hate it and it hurts innocent people.

"At the end of the day, if you believe in my crystal ball, this gets the votes."