U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., has announced that he’s voting against the compromise budget deal, despite his comments a few days ago in which he urged U.S. House members to ignore conservative groups’ calls to defeat the measure.
Blunt telegraphed his intentions Tuesday morning via Twitter: "There’s no reason to block an up or down vote on the budget agreement, but I will vote NO on final passage."
A spokeswoman said later that Blunt’s position on the budget package “hasn’t changed,” and pointed to some of his concerns that he’d cited during the same press conference where he took on the measure’s vocal outside critics.
Indeed, Blunt had made it clear last week that he had yet to decide how he would vote on the package. His complaints included budget provisions that would hurt some military pensions, and its cuts in payments to Medicare providers, such as physicians.
However, such comments had been overshadowed by Blunt’s blunt remarks about unnamed conservative groups, such as the Heritage Foundation, that had been pressuring House Republicans to reject the two-year deal, crafted by House budget chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate budget chair Patty Murray, D-Wash.
Blunt had called on House members to “just try to do the right thing for country.” He then added, “Apparently the ‘right thing’ is less and less likely to coincide with outside groups who appear to be against everything."
Based on Blunt's final decision, his comments could have been intended to encourage House Republicans to conduct a floor vote and not just summarily kill off the deal. Some measures -- such as the Senate-passed bill on immigration -- have not been sent to the House floor because of splits in the ranks of the GOP majority, even though an overall majority of House members appear to support such bills.
In the case of the budget deal, the final House vote made clear there was a decided division in GOP ranks.
Blunt’s spokeswoman noted that he was among the 67 senators – Republicans and Democrats – who had voted Tuesday to end the budget debate, which then allows the Senate to proceed with a vote. At least 60 votes were needed to cross that crucial procedural hurdle. A final Senate vote – in which Blunt will oppose the package – is set for Wednesday.
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has indicated that she will vote for the package, despite her objections to parts of it, as is Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., has announced that he will vote against final passage.