WASHINGTON (AP) — After a sweeping vote by conservative Republicans controlling the House and President Barack Obama's Democratic allies, a bipartisan budget pact is in the hands of the Senate, where it will encounter stronger but probably futile resistance from Republicans.
The modest package passed by the House on Thursday would ease the harshest effects of another round of automatic spending cuts set to hit the Pentagon and domestic agencies next month. Supporters of the measure easily beat back attacks on it from conservative organizations that sometimes raise money by stoking conflict within the Republican Party.
At the same time, Democrats who were upset that the bill would not extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed suppressed their doubts to advance the measure to the Democratic-led Senate, where Obama's allies appear set to clear it next week for his signature.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Friday morning he would confer with GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to push consideration of the budget agreement sooner.
Senate Democrats promise to force a vote on extending unemployment benefits when the chamber reconvenes next year. They hope that political pressure after 1.3 million people lose their benefits on Dec. 28 will force GOP leaders to knuckle under and extend aid averaging under $300 a week to people who've been out of work longer than six months.
The bipartisan bill breezed through the House on a 332-94 vote, with lopsided majorities of Republicans and Democrats alike voting in favor.
Thursday's vote was a big win for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who earlier in the day lobbed another salvo at conservative interest groups that routinely attack Republicans for supporting legislation they deem not conservative enough. But that is what Republicans can achieve given the realities of a divided Washington.