The House passed a year-end budget compromise Thursday night with overwhelming bipartisan support, but the bill faces a surprisingly uncertain path in the United States Senate.
While aides still believe the modest measure to avoid future government shutdowns will eek through to passage, the deal brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is running into unexpected opposition from some of the chamber’s usual negotiators.
In the past, it's been easier to move major legislation through the Senate than through the more unpredictable House. But it's not yet safe to assume that the Murray-Ryan budget agreement is going to get to the president’s desk without a fight.
Defense hawks, such as Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are concerned about the plan’s cost-of-living adjustment reductions for some military retirees.
That’s a surprise to backers of the deal, who believed they would get support from these compromise-minded military hawks because the proposal saves the Pentagon from another round of sequestration cuts that are planned for January.
“I truly appreciate Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray for their work trying to write a budget that provides relief to the Department of Defense,” said Graham, who is up for re-election in 2014. “But this agreement doesn’t do enough to protect those who have spent their lives protecting our nation.”
The deal isn't universally loved by Democrats, either. Many are concerned about cuts to pensions for federal workers and worry that the measure doesn't extend unemployment insurance.
While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has kept his members in line on almost all major votes, there are some signs of unhappiness with this proposal - and any Democrat who wants to vote "no" would require another Republican "yes."
The rancor that's consumed the chamber in the past few days isn't helping. The Senate was in session overnight for two straight days now as Republicans protest Reid's change to the filibuster rules, although leaders have reached a deal to avert weekend votes and advance to work on pending policy measures by Tuesday.
The budget agreement is expected to come to the floor early next week.
First published December 13 2013, 7:16 AM