Sen. Richard Burr on Monday said he does not plan to vote to cut off debate on Tuesday on the bipartisan budget deal.
Senate Democrats in Washington were sounding confident on Monday that they’d get the 60 votes they need for the procedural move to cut off the debate and clear the way for a vote on final passage. (See story here.) Democrats need at least five Republicans to get to that 60.
Burr earlier reportedly signaled he’d be one of them. But on Monday afternoon, he issued a statement that said:
"While I applaud Chairman (Paul) Ryan's efforts to prevent another government shutdown, I have decided upon further review to oppose allowing this bill to move forward. After reviewing in detail the significant changes made to the Senate budget rules that would allow Senate Democrats to circumvent the 60-vote threshold in order to pass a tax increase or increase spending, I have determined I cannot support cloture on the agreement."
Burr’s staff said he was referring to a little-known provision in the bipartisan budget compromise that would change the way spending caps under the budget deal would be enforced under Senate rules. Burr and some other senators, including Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., say that in certain circumstances, the rule change would make it possible for Democrats to pass a tax increase that gets around the Senate’s 60-vote threshold.
The plan by Ryan, the Republican House Budget Committee chairman, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., would relax automatic spending cuts in 2014 and 2015 and increase discretionary spending by $63 billion over the sequester level. Supporters say the spending would be offset by additional revenue and savings over the next decade.
If the vote to cut off debate on the bipartisan budget deal gets enough support on Tuesday to clear the procedural hurdle, the vote on final passage will only require 51 votes to pass. It’s widely thought that enough senators will vote for it at that point to pass it.
Burr would vote against final passage of the bill because it doesn’t do enough to solve the nation’s debt problem, his office said.