Murray-Ryan deal heads towards finish line

The Murray-Ryan budget deal almost surely will pass the Senate, but Republicans are making supporters of the compromise sweat a little:

“The struggle is still on in the United States Senate; we will need about eight Republicans to come our way. I feel we’ll have a good, strong showing from the Democratic side. But we need bipartisan support to pass it,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

I think Durbin means that he needs eight Republicans to vote for ending debate so that the measure can be voted upon. He already has four Republicans on record as willing to invoke cloture. They are: John McCain, Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, and Richard Burr.

There is little doubt that at least four more Republicans will join them. Johnny Isakson, Saxby Chambliss, Lisa Murkowski, and Bob Corker are considered good candidates, according to the Washington Post.

When the Senate passes the compromise, it won’t be because the deal is good one on the merits. Its merit is the avoidance of a government shutdown that might well hurt Republicans at a time when the GOP’s prospects look fairly bright.

Nor will passage of the compromise signal a new era of good feelings in the Senate. According to the Post, “ill will over recent rule changes has heightened a bitter partisan divide.” Let’s hope so.

Consequently, says the Post, “both sides say it is likely to be one of the final pieces of significant legislation to pass the 113th Congress as midterm elections loom.” Let’s hope so.

But this doesn’t mean the 113th Congress will produce no further mischief. The Senate set the stage by passing amnesty-style immigration reform legislation. The House, where the partisan divide suddenly seems less bitter, may push that ball across the goal line.

If so, it won’t matter that no other significant legislation passes. Republicans will have given President Obama the jewel he so badly requires for his legacy.

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