Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking GOP member of the Senate Budget Committee, said Thursday that Senate Republicans plan to filibuster the budget deal that House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) cut with Senate Budget Committee chairwoman Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).
The deal passed the House 332-94, with 62 Republicans and 32 Democrats voting against it. The bill is expected to come up for votes in the Senate early next week, either Monday or Tuesday.
The type of filibuster Sessions spoke of is not the traditional “talking filibuster” like the one Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) launched earlier this year to protest Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama’s drone policies. It is a procedural filibuster, The Hill reports, that would require Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to at least twice obtain 60 votes to pass the bill.
“They’ll need 60 votes on cloture and 60 votes on the budget point of order,” Sessions said, according to The Hill.
Since there are only 55 Democrats in the U.S. Senate, Reid will twice need at least five Republicans to break from their party and support the budget deal. Reid may need more Republicans if liberals like Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) or Bernie Sanders (I-VT) oppose the deal because it does not extend unemployment benefits. Considering 32 Democrats voted against the deal in the House, it seems plausible Reid may lose at least one, maybe two Democrats in the Senate.
Senate Republicans largely seem unified against the bill. As of late Thursday, not one Senate Republican confirmed suppot of the plan.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will vote against it, and Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn and GOP conference chairman John Thune have indicated their opposition to it as well. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) has said he opposes it. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Sessions each oppose it too.
Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Roger Wicker (R-MS), who usually support similar measures, have each announced their opposition.
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) is undecided as of this point, and while Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) – easily the Senate’s most liberal Republican – has said he is leaning “yes,” he has not yet committed to voting for the deal, citing concerns with military pension cuts in it.
Appropriators like Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have not committed either, according to Roll Call.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Majority Whip in the Senate, confirmed to reporters on Thursday that the Democrats need GOP votes to make this happen.
“We need Republican votes to pass the budget agreement, period,” Durbin said. “We need at least five, and I’m hoping that there’ll be more than that. There are not five who Republicans have announced they’re for it, I mean to my knowledge, and I hope there are many more than that, and they’re just holding back for any number of reasons.”
While the deal is more likely to pass the Senate than not, the question becomes about which Republicans – if any – Reid will be able to attract to support the Ryan budget deal.