WASHINGTON – Pennsylvania and New Jersey senators split along party lines this morning on a key vote on a two-year budget deal.
Democratic Sens. Bob Casey (of Pennsylvania) and Cory Booker and Bob Menendez (of New Jersey) all supported the plan, while Republican Sen. Pat Toomey (of Pennsylvania) voted against it.
The plan cleared a critical procedural hurdle by a 67-33 vote, all but assuring its passage later this week. Twelve Republicans joined every Democrat in voting to advance the measure.
The budget plan, worked out between the top budget officers in each chamber, Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.), would set spending levels for the next two years and help avoid the threat of another fiscal showdown and government shutdown in January.
The deal increases discretionary spending by about $63 billion over the next decade and provides some relief from the automatic budget cuts known as "the sequester." By extending some existing budget cuts and adding some fees, though, the plan is also projected to cut the federal deficit by about $85 billion – with much of the savings put off until early next decade.
Toomey was among several fiscal conservatives who opposed the deal because it increases spending and gives back some of the spending cuts won in previous budget deals. Toomey argued that the across-the-board sequester cut should be replaced with more targeted reductions, but that overall spending should not increase.
Booker and Casey were among those saying they wish the bill did more to undo the cuts, but that it was important to pass a compromise plan that would avert the kind of fiscal battles that have bogged down Congress.
The plan passed the House last week, 332-94. Every member of Congress from Philadelphia and its Pennsylvania and New Jersey suburbs voted for the bill.