Every single U.S. senator is expected later today to have to vote on whether the federal budget should be balanced, senior Senate aides tell me. The vote will be for support of an amendment to the Democratic budget, which is currently not balanced, and which will be debated on the Senate floor today, calling for it to be balanced.
"Later today, every single Senator will be forced to go on the record about whether they want to balance the budget," a senior Senate aide tells me. "There will be no caveats, such as disallowing revenue increases. It will be a simple question: do you want to balance the budget—any way you desire—within the next 10 years, or not? If these Senators support this measure, it will effectively kill the Murray budget. If they oppose it, they will have to explain to their constituents why they don’t even support this popular concept in principle."
That is: The vote will not be about how balance in the budget should be reached. So if a Democrat believes the budget should be balanced by raising taxes, he'd be able to support this move; and if a Republican believes the budget should be balanced by cutting spending, she too could support this move.
One Republican aide wonders specifically how Democrats in conservative-leaning states will vote. He says he is most interested in knowing whether Max Baucus, Mark Pryor, Joe Donnelly, Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu, Heidi Heitkamp, and Mark Warner support a balanced budget, and he wonders whether this vote might effect one of those senator's reelection chances.
Senator Jeff Sessions, a Senate tells me, is most likely going to be the senator to offer this amendment.
But Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, declined to comment for this article.
"I am not able to comment at this time on any specific amendments that Republicans may or may not offer," says Stephen Miller, the communications director for Sessions. "What I can say, broadly speaking, is that the whole of our nation will soon find out where every single United States Senator stands on this defining question: do you believe in balancing the federal budget?"
UPDATE: The vote will now not take place Wednesday, but will likely happen on Thursday.