The Senate was set to cast a key procedural vote on Tuesday to move toward approving a compromise budget to stabilize government funding into late 2015.
Senators will gather at 10 a.m. to vote to end debate on the bipartisan budget past last week by a relatively overwhelming margin by the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.
The legislation — which must clear the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome the threat of a filibuster — was expected to win approval, though the margin could be tight. Though most House Republicans voted for the agreement, forged in part by the party's 2012 vice presidential nominee, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, a majority of GOP senators may vote against the agreement.
If all 53 Senate Democrats and the two independents who caucus with Democrats support the agreement — negotiated in the Senate by Democrat Patty Murray of Washington — five Republicans will need to break ranks to support the agreement. The prospects for that seem likely, as a handful of GOP senators have already announced their intention to support the agreement.
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.
President Barack Obama supports the budget legislation, which would come to the White House for his signature if the Senate approves it 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.