WASHINGTON - The Senate is on track Tuesday to clear a key procedural hurdle for final passage of a two-year, bipartisan budget deal before the end of the week.
A significant bloc of Senate Republicans have said they will oppose the agreement, but enough Republicans are expected to help Democrats get the 60 votes they need to end debate and approve the legislation.
Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., on Monday joined the ranks of Republicans who will support the deal reached by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash.
"This agreement isn't everything I'd hoped it would be, and it isn't what I would have written. But sometimes the answer has to be yes," Hatch said Monday.
Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine are also expected to back the bill's passage.
The bill's framework would set top-line federal spending levels for the next two fiscal years, partially ease across-the-board cuts known as sequestration and offer some modest deficit reduction.
It overwhelmingly passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives last week before the chamber adjourned for the holidays. President Obama has said he will sign it when it reaches his desk.
If the Senate passes the 60-vote threshold on Tuesday, a final vote will occur by Thursday.
The Senate is working to complete its legislative agenda for the year by the end of the week, which includes a defense bill and a number of executive branch nominations.
By Susan Davis