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POLITICS: PennAve

Sen. Orrin Hatch says he will back budget deal

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Congress,Senate,PennAve,Sean Lengell,Budgets and Deficits,Government Shutdown,Orrin Hatch

The budget deal inched closer to approval in the Senate on Monday, as Sen. Orrin Hatch said he will support the package.

"This agreement isn’t everything I’d hoped it would be, and it isn’t what I would have written. But sometimes the answer has to be yes," the Utah Republican said.

"The reality is that Republicans only control one-half of one-third of government … and, with Democrats controlling the White House and the Senate, it is the best we could hope for."

Hatch, a conservative who occasionally breaks with his party to provide Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., a key "yes" vote, said the package brokered last week by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., "ultimately … upholds the principles conservatives stand for."

"Much more work needs to be done to address the number one drivers of our country’s debt — our entitlement programs," he said. "But my hope is that this budget agreement paves the way to greater stability, lasting deficit reduction and [offers] the political will to tackle those challenges in the near future."

With the 55 senators in the Democratic caucus all expected to vote for the deal, Reid needs the support of five Republicans to hit the 60-vote threshold to avoid a GOP-led filibuster. But with Hatch joining fellow GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, John McCain of Arizona and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin in supporting the proposal — and with others hinting they may do so — Reid is close to hitting his target.

The budget package, which passed the House last week, would avert a government shutdown until October 2015, restore $63 billion in scheduled cuts and trim the budget deficit by $22.5 billion. Some conservatives — including influential outside groups such as Heritage Action, Americans for Prosperity and the Tea Party Patriots — say the deal doesn't cut spending enough and have encouraged Republicans to vote against the bill.

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Sean Lengell

Congressional Correspondent
The Washington Examiner