Key GOP senator: Budget deal will pass, but votes still being counted

Senate Majority Whip John Thune predicted Thursday that a spending caps and debt ceiling agreement will pass the chamber when it comes up for a vote next week, but he and other sources acknowledged Senate leaders are still whipping the vote and they are not taking anything for granted.

“I think we will get there,” Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, told CNN. “It’s a process. Our members are reviewing it. Democrat members are reviewing it. I think in the end most people realize that even though they may not like everything about it, this represents the best we can do under the circumstances. We have to fund the government and make sure we don’t default on our obligations.”

One senior GOP aide described the process as one of steadily building support for the bill but that they won’t know for sure where the votes are until after senators have time to fully review the legislation, talk to their constituents while home over the weekend and see what happens when the House votes on it later Thursday.

Many conservative senators are unhappy about the increased domestic spending in the bill and hiking of the debt limit, something they have previously resisted. But they like the robust boost in defense spending included in the deal, something Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly pointed to on the floor this week as he has touted the merits of the bill and urged his members to support it.

Several conservative senators declined to say how they would vote when asked by CNN on Thursday.

Another Senate GOP aide said no major problems were expected passing the bill.

Sixty votes will be needed to break a filibuster of the bill. Thune pointed optimistically to members of the Armed Services Committee, many who like the increase in Pentagon funding, and members of the Appropriations Committee, who are anxious to return to regular order in passing spending bills, as evidence the bill should have ample support.

There are 58 senators between the two committees, though there’s no guarantee that all of them will support it, but nevertheless it represents a strong base of bipartisan support.

“A lot of our members like the fact that there is some predictability on the defense number so I think we have our Armed Services folks for the most part and a lot of our appropriators who would like to have regular appropriations process advocating for it, so we’ll see where it goes,” Thune said.

A vote is still not scheduled yet, though Thune thought it might come mid-week.