The Washington Post

The House is on the verge of a genuinely bipartisan budget vote. Here’s why.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who brokered the budget deal. (Getty Images)

This item has been updated.

The House appears on the verge of approving the the budget agreement unveiled Tuesday evening by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), according to conversations with members and aides on both sides of the aisle.

The path to 217 votes for a proposal that would replace parts of the sequester and avoid any budget showdown until the fall of 2015 is a political patchwork of ideologies and loyalties that represent what, at least for the moment, looks like the rarest of things in modern politics: A bipartisan success.

Support for the proposal appears to rest on two things. One, that both parties will be making concessions in order to reach a deal, and two, that Congress is in no mood to have to rush back to Washington after the holidays to meet (yet) another fiscal deadline. Everyone has seen the polls -- shocker: they are bad -- and, whether they say so publicly or not, members of the House and Senate are fed up with fiscal concerns sucking up all the  oxygen on Capitol Hill.

Asked about the budget deal by The Post's Jackie Kucinich Tuesday morning, South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson, an outspoken conservative and not always a reliable "yes" vote for GOP leaders, said the budget deal "looks great."

Other rank-and-file lawmakers of both parties also signaled they're on board. Rep. Vicki Hartzler (R-Mo.), who usually associates herself with the chamber's most renegade conservatives, told reporters Tuesday that she's also leaning towards supporting the deal. And Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.),  who represents a suburban Chicago swing district, said in a statement Tuesday that the agreement is "far from perfect" but provides "stability and certainty that's been sorely lacking from Washington."

That broad cross section of support suggests that the vote margin for the budget agreement may mirror what happened when Congress voted on the Budget Control Act in 2011. That agreement passed the House 269 to 161, with 174 Republicans and 95 Democrats voting yes. Sixty-six Republicans voted no, along with 95 Democrats.

Like that vote, there will be plenty of "no" votes in both parties -- and those votes will, largely come from the most conservative and liberal members of the House.

If you've read The Fix's Complete Guide to Understanding House Republicans (and of course you have) then you know there are 45 members of the "No" and "Maybe, Not  Likely" caucuses -- the most ardent conservatives who have bucked GOP leadership on several key votes. It's a safe bet that most of them will vote no.

Four lawmakers from these two groups -- Reps. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) and Andy Harris (R-Md.) -- said Tuesday at a "Conversations with Conservatives" meeting with reporters that they'll vote against the agreement. Huelskamp said the deal "blows up the only real significant spending restraint passed since the Republicans assumed the majority in the 2010 election." He's also unhappy that the agreement all but ignores the GOP-backed budget passed by the House this year.

Among Democrats, most of the opposition will come from ardent liberals like Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who said he strongly opposes the agreement because it "asks federal employees to endure another pay cut, ends an important economic lifeline for out-of-work Americans, and preserves unfair corporate tax giveaways."

Others, like Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), signaled concerns because new airport security fees included in the budget agreement would adversely affect travelers from the Aloha State. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), a deputy Democratic whip, cautioned Tuesday that several Democrats may vote opt to vote "no" because the deal fails to renew unemployment benefits for a little more than one million Americans who are relying on the federal benefits. "People are still really concerned that unemployment insurance is not extended, that was the one thread that went through," she told reporters after the weekly House Democratic meeting.

But it's unlikely that an extension will be added to the budget agreement or that Republican leaders will permit a vote on extending them before Friday's adjournment.

In spite of all that, the compromise looks likely to pass. Consider Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who typifies the thinking of many members in both chambers leaning towards voting for the plan. Even though he opposes some elements of the budget deal, he seems to have found a silver lining. He said Tuesday night that "This obviously is not the budget I would have written," because it doesn't extend the unemployment benefits. But he added that likes that the agreement doesn't make any significant changes to the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Paul Kane contributed to this report.

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.



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