Thursday November 26th, 2015 3:41AM

Prospects for budget legislation solid in Senate.

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- One day after winning lopsided House approval, bipartisan legislation to ease across-the-board spending cuts and reduce economy-rattling budget brinkmanship appears likely to command the 60 votes necessary to clear the Senate, officials in both parties said Friday.

Yet unlike in the House, significantly more Senate Republicans are expected to oppose the legislation than vote for it, highlighting the different political forces at work at opposite ends of the Capitol.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced a test vote for Tuesday on the measure, which cleared the House on an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 332-94.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars joined the ranks of the bill's opponents during the day, citing a provision to reduce cost of living increases for military retirees until they reach age 62. The result could mean "a cumulative loss in retirement income of $80,000" for a sergeant first class who retires at age 40, the group said.

"Although Iraq is over and the war in Afghanistan is winding down, we can't allow Congress to dismantle the programs they created over the past 12 years," said William A. Thien, the VFW's national commander.

Overall, the legislation erases a total of $63 billion in across-the-board cuts in the next two budget years, and specifies $85 billion in savings over a decade. The result is a net $23 billion cut in deficits through 2023, although critics argue the spending increases will happen first, and many of the savings years later, if at all.

By raising spending levels, the bill is also designed to eliminate the threat of another budget shutdown like the one this fall.

Senate supporters will need 60 votes to advance the bill, and even some opponents predicted that was likely to happen.

"My sense is that the procedural issues could be overcome and there could be just" a yes or no vote, said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who added he intends to oppose the measure because it increases spending.

He said unnamed Republicans have held private discussions on handling the legislation, but did not say if the leadership was involved.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., also told reporters he will join in making sure the measure gets 60 votes needed to advance to a final vote, even though he is inclined to oppose the bill on final passage.

Speaking privately, several GOP congressional aides said most if not all rank-and-file Republicans were strongly inclined to oppose the legislation, in part because it would raise spending in the short-term in exchange for longer-range savings they say may not materialize.

Tea party-aligned groups and challengers they are supporting in primaries against incumbent Republicans appear poised to turn lawmakers' support for the agreement into a campaign issue.

Many Republican senators face primary challengers, and, none of those senators has announced an intention to vote for the legislation.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second ranking GOP leader, who drew a primary opponent earlier in the week, is "concerned about reversing spending cuts," said a spokeswoman, Megan Mitchell.

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, is widely expected to oppose the bill, but has not yet announced a public position.

His primary opponent, Matt Bevin, hasn't been as reticent. He opposes the legislation, and said of the incumbent: "Instead of leading, he is dodging a major issue while waiting to see which way the political winds are blowing."

All three Senate Republicans mentioned as potential presidential contenders in 2016, Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, are opposed to the bill.

Despite the opposition from tea party groups and others on the right, Senate Republicans say they fear a public backlash if the bill fails and the public decides they are responsible, particularly after the drubbing the GOP took in the polls after this fall's partial government shutdown. The officials who described developments concerning the measure did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to speak on the record about strategic deliberations.

Similar concerns converged in the House.

Yet all three top Republican leaders were among 169 members of the rank and file in voting for the measure, and some lawmakers worried aloud that the bill's demise could inflict further political damage on the party.

On Thursday, in advance of the vote, Speaker John Boehner unleashed a stinging attack on the groups campaigning for the bill's demise, saying they lacked credibility. He also blamed them for leading the party into the shutdown this fall.

The bill's principal Republican negotiator, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, is also considered a potential presidential contender. An aide said he has been making phone calls to senators seeking their support.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Missing Ga. bank director arrested in Brunswick
A bank director accused of losing millions of investors' dollars before vanishing last year was arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in a city in south Georgia.
7:00PM ( 1 year ago )
Amtrak to suspend some Crescent service in Jan., Feb.
Amtrak service will shut down in parts of the Southeast for several days in January and February for rail maintenance by Norfolk Southern Railway.
9:00AM ( 1 year ago )
Lung cancer scans urged for some smokers, not all
Certain current or former heavy smokers should start getting yearly scans for lung cancer to cut their risk of death from the nation's top cancer killer, government advisers said Monday - even as they stressed that the tests aren't for everyone.
7:26AM ( 1 year ago )
Business News
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Victim critical following apartment fire
A 41-year-old woman was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after being rescued from an apartment fire in Forsyth County late Monday afternoon.
3:16PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Feeling US snub, Saudis strengthen ties elsewhere
Increasingly vocal in its frustration over U.S. policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year.
4:34PM ( 1 year ago )
NSA reportedly intercepts computer deliveries
A German magazine has lifted the lid on the operations of the National Security Agency's hacker unit, revealing how American spies intercepted computer deliveries, exploited hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijacked Microsoft's bug report system to spy on their targets.
12:31PM ( 1 year ago )
Rockets fired from Lebanon into Israel
Rockets from Lebanon struck northern Israel on Sunday, causing no injuries but sparking an Israeli reprisal shelling in a rare flare-up between the two countries.
12:26PM ( 1 year ago )
Obama grants reprieve to turkeys 'Honest' and 'Abe' during White House ceremony
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama spared two turkeys named for one of the nation's most admired presidents, continuing a White House tradition that provides a refreshing sense of amusement and...
9:18PM ( 6 hours ago )
The Latest: UN Security Council strongly condemns 'horrifying' attack in Mali, urges probe
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The latest on the attack on a hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako. (All times local):___4:55 a.m.The U.N. Security Council is condemning "the horrifying terrorist attack" at the...
10:58PM ( 5 days ago )
World leaders vow vigorous response to Paris terror spree, but little indication of next steps
ANTALYA, Turkey (AP) — World leaders vowed a vigorous response to the Islamic State group's terror spree in Paris as they opened a two-day meeting in Turkey on Sunday, with President Barack Obama call...
2:14PM ( 1 week ago )
Rash of E. coli cases in Pacific Northwest highlights problem of foodborne illnesses
SEATTLE (AP) — As Chipotle prepares to reopen its restaurants in the Pacific Northwest this week after an E. coli outbreak that sickened about 45 people, health experts say foodborne illnesses are mor...
1:40AM ( 2 weeks ago )
Biden says he will not run for president in 2016, finalizing field of Democratic candidates
Vice President Joe Biden will not run for president in 2016, he said Wednesday, ending a months-long flirtation with a third White House campaign and setting him on a glide path toward the end of his decades-long political career.
1:34PM ( 1 month ago )