WASHINGTON — The budget deal that cruised easily through the House this week must still win approval from the other side of the Capitol, where it faces plenty of complaints from conservatives and liberals alike.
Ultimately, the Senate is expected to sign off on the deal. If the majority Democrats hold their ranks, they need only five Republicans to pass the bill.
Still, many senators — including those from Iowa and Nebraska — have been objecting to parts of the compromise plan, which would ease the bite of the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration in combination with targeted trims.
While sequestration is seen almost universally as an imperfect method of trimming the budget, many Republicans have balked at rolling it back.
Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., has said he sees the value of bringing more stability to federal budget policy — something the two-year agreement would provide. But he objected to giving up the sequestration cuts without accompanying structural changes to entitlement programs.
“There are red flags everywhere,” Johanns said of the deal.
After the overwhelming House vote Thursday evening, Johanns said Friday that he wanted to take the weekend to think over how he will vote.
Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., also plans to contemplate her position over the next few days.
She has expressed major concerns with the proposal, including its cuts to military pension cost-of-living raises.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Friday that he was surprised at the big House vote but that he continued to lean against the deal, which he compared to blowing trust fund money on immediate spending.
While plenty of Republicans are taking issue with the budget compromise, not all Democrats are pleased either.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, described himself as “really upset” that the deal did not include an extension of federal unemployment benefits, which are due to expire at year's end, affecting 1.3 million people.
Harkin said he's still considering his vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has suggested that the unemployment benefits could be taken up in January, but Harkin has been skeptical of that approach.
The extended federal benefits have provided a lifeline to many jobless people, particularly in those parts of the U.S. hardest hit by the recession.
Harkin and other Democrats had hoped to get them renewed as part of the budget deal, but the agreement produced by the negotiations left them out.
“It's just unconscionable that we're doing this,” Harkin said.