A landmark budget agreement that passed in the U.S. House on Thursday faces certain death in the Senate unless at least five Republicans step up to support it – but so far there are no takers at all.
The GOP’s Senate leaders plan to launch a procedural effort to kill the plan over a laundry list of objections – including a claim that it short-changes military veterans and other government retirees.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin conceded that he needs to find Republicans who will vote for the measure after Republicans announced their intention Thursday night to block the deal.
‘We need Republican votes to pass the budget agreement, period,’ Durbin told reporters on Thursday. ‘We need at least five. And I’m hoping that there will be more than that.’
Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and the third-most powerful Senate leader, acknowledged that ‘there are not five Republicans who have announced they’re for it.’
In fact, no Republican senators have publicly said that they will vote in favor of the agreement that Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray unveiled Tuesday evening.
Their plan would roll back $63 billion in mandatory cuts from the so-called budget sequester that took effect in March. Some of that restored spending would be offset by cuts to military and civilian government pensions.
Annual cost-of-living increases in most military veterans’ retirement benefits would be cut by 1 per cent, an amount that the Military Officers Association of America says could cost a typical former soldier or sailor $80,000 over a 20-year period.
The GOP’s three most senior senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have announced that they will vote ‘no.’
Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, all considered top-tier presidential contenders in 2016, are all lined up against the measure.
The proposal ‘spends more, taxes more, and allows continued funding for Obamacare,’ Cruz said Thursday. ‘I cannot support it.’