Passage was, of course, a foregone conclusion of holding the vote in the first place. Thanks to the intricacies of Senate rules, the Paul Ryan-Patty Murray budget deal had to withstand a cloture vote to limit debate to 30 hours, which will allow the final floor vote to proceed before the Senate leaves for its Christmas recess. If Harry Reid had any doubt about the prospects of a successful cloture vote, he would have waited longer to hold it.
That doesn’t mean the vote was uneventful:
McConnell and Rand Paul both voted against it, as did most Republicans who might face primary challenges next year — including John Cornyn. John McCain was among the Republicans voting for cloture, though, and he was joined by several others (including the recently-elected Orrin Hatch) to push the vote well past the 60-vote mark to 67-33. We’ll post the link to the final roll-call vote report when it becomes available.
In this case, the Senate went along with the public consensus, almost matching the vote to the percentages in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll:
A majority of the public approves of the budget deal hashed out last week, according to a new poll.
An ABC-Washington Post poll released Tuesday found 50 percent approve of the agreement while 35 percent disapprove. The other 15 percent had no opinion of the deal.
Sixty-one percent of Democrats approve of it as well as 52 percent of independents. Republicans are split, as 39 percent approve of the deal while 36 percent disapprove. The rest are undecided.
There are grounds for dissent in this compromise, but the amplitude of the issues was at least kept to a dull roar. Don’t expect a big fight over the debt ceiling, either, despite what Ryan suggested this week. Republicans will demand a concession or two, but it will be on the same scale as the concessions in this deal, if they get them at all. No one had the stomach to disrupt the markets with a game of chicken on the debt ceiling in 2011, or in October of this year, and the GOP certainly won’t want the distraction from ObamaCare next year. This is a clearing of the decks to force Democrats to run on ObamaCare in the midst of its destructive impact, and a way to avoid an obstructionist tag on a function that the American public clearly wants back on track. We’ll see whether this strategy pays off in the midterm elections.
Update: Chad Pergram reports on the 12 Republicans who joined all of the Democrats on the vote:
12 R Sens vote to end debate on budget: Alexander Isakson Portman Blunt Collins Hoeven Chambliss Flake Murkowski Johnson (WI) Hatch McCain
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) December 17, 2013
Not an at-risk seat among them. This is a clear case of managing the vote. Expect the other Republicans to highlight their opposition to cloture, but the budget deal will pass easily now.