The vote margin will be slim, but it's looking increasingly likely that the Senate on Tuesday will take the first important step toward approving the two-year, bipartisan budget plan that the House overwhelmingly endorsed last week.
If the plan is passed, that means there won't be any repeat of this fall's government shutdown showdown until at least 2015.
According to CNN, the plan "appears to have enough support in the Senate to clear a crucial test vote on Tuesday after several conservative Republicans announced their support." The news network reports that:
"Orrin Hatch of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Johnny Isakson of Georgia joined four other Senate Republicans who had already said they will either support the bill or, at a minimum, vote in favor of critical procedural motions that require a supermajority of 60 votes to prevail. That should happen if most of the 55 members of the Democratic caucus also vote yes, which is likely."
The Hill's headline is "Senate Poised To Approve Budget," and it reports that "the bill, which sets top-line spending levels for 2014 and 2015, is on track to just barely get the 60 votes it needs to clear the upper chamber." As The Hill adds, "60 votes are required to end debate on the measure. Only a majority is needed on final passage."
The Washington Post's headline is "Bipartisan Senate Budget Deal Appears Likely To Pass." The Wall Street Journal also says the legislation "seemed likely to clear a pivotal procedural vote."
According to NPR's Tamara Keith, the first vote — to end debate on the measure — is expected to happen later this morning. That would set up a vote on the plan itself by sometime Wednesday. Passage then would require only a bare majority of the 100 senators.
Of course, the outcome isn't certain until all the votes are counted. NPR's Ailsa Chang tells our Newscast Desk that there's a chance that at least a few of the Senate Democrats will oppose the plan.
"Some of them say they resent larger pension contributions federal employees will have to make," she reports, "and they're also upset that the compromise did nothing to extend unemployment benefits set to expire on Dec. 28."
The majority of the Senate's 45 Republicans oppose the measure, Ailsa adds, because "the legislation reverses some of the across-the-board spending cuts that were scheduled for January."
We'll watch for news on the vote and update.