Bipartisan legislation to soften across-the-board spending cuts gained ground among Senate Republicans on Monday, and Democrats expressed optimism it would gain the 60 votes needed to pass by week’s end.
Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Georgians Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia announced they would vote to send the measure over a critical hurdle in a test vote set for today, bringing the number of GOP lawmakers to seven. Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota said he was inclined to join them.
The announcements more than offset an announcement from Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., who reversed course and said he would vote to block the bill.
Given the uncertainty, Democrats, who control 55 seats, were under pressure to avoid defections on the vote.
The measure at the center of the maneuvering would restore about $63 billion in across-the-board cuts scheduled to take effect in the current budget year and the next one.