The Senate cast a key procedural vote on Tuesday in support of a budget compromise to stabilize government funding into late 2015.
Senators voted 67 to 33 to cut off debate on the bipartisan budget passed last week by a relatively overwhelming margin by the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. Twelve Republicans joined with the majority Democrats to move toward final passage of the budget measure.
The budget agreement represents an effort to "end the uncertainty and start rebuilding some trust" in Congress, said Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the Democratic architect of the agreement.
"After the completely unnecessary government shutdown and debt limit crisis just two months ago, the American people were more disgusted than ever at the gridlock and the dysfunction," she said in a floor speech ahead of the vote.
The Senate is expected to vote on final passage of the budget this week, which would send the legislation to President Barack Obama for his signature. The final vote will require a simple majority and is widely expected to pass.
The legislation cleared the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome the threat of a filibuster by a somewhat healthy margin, given the partisan stratification over most key measures in the Senate. A handful of moderate and veteran Republicans offered their support to at least end debate on the budget. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., voted against the procedural motion.
The agreement would remove the threat of another government shutdown before October of 2015. It funds the government at levels above the automatic spending cuts enacted at the beginning of this year by raising non-tax revenue and savings through cuts and reforms to government spending.
The legislation has won the ire of many conservative advocacy groups, who clashed much of last week with elected Republicans, most notably House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Most Republicans' votes to shirk the opposition of conservative groups was seen as a rare victory by the GOP establishment over its establishment wing.
The compromise budget framework was unveiled last week by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Republicans' 2012 vice presidential nominee, and Murray.
Obama has expressed his support for the budget agreement, and could sign it into law before leaving for Christmas vacation in Hawaii at the end of this week. The House has left Washington for the year, but the Senate is locked in a whirlwind of votes this week to wrap up the chamber's business before the holidays next week.
First published December 17 2013, 7:35 AM