The compromise budget bill passed a key Senate procedural vote on Tuesday morning, 67 to 33, easily overcoming a filibuster threat from some Senate Republicans. Twelve Republicans voted with Democrats to support the measure. The Senate will likely vote on final passage for the bill later this week. The two-year budget plan, a result of negotiations between Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, passed the House late last week 332 to 94.
Democrats only needed five Republican votes to advance the measure. And on Monday, Republican Sen. Orrin G. Hatch appeared to tip the tally in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's favor by announcing his support for the bill. The budget proposal "isn’t everything I’d hoped it would be," Hatch said in a statement, "and it isn’t what I would have written. But sometimes the answer has to be yes." The other GOP "yes" votes came from Sens. Alexander, Blunt, Chambliss, Collins, Flake, Hoeven, Isakson, Johnson (of Wisconsin), McCain, Murkowski, and Portman.
The deal will set funding at just over $1 trillion for the years 2014 and 2015, ending a cycle of short-term funding plans and shutdown threats. The measure provides partial relief to sequester cuts: $63 billion of those cuts will end, using the budget's $85 billion in savings. The remaining savings go to paying down the debt. The bill will not extend benefits for the long-term unemployed. On December 28th, those benefits end, affecting 1.3 million Americans.
Although both Republicans and Democrats have mixed feelings on the bill, it seems to be partially the result of the sequestration cuts finally having their intended effect. The cuts, intended to be an incentive to force some sort of budget deal out of a difficult Congress, were scheduled to get even worse at the beginning of next year.
Especially given today's procedural tally, the bill will almost certainly pass the Senate with a simple majority. That final vote come come as early as later today. President Obama announced his support for the measure earlier, and will sign it into law should it reach his desk.