House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi publicly pushed her caucus to support the budget deal lined up for a House vote, saying "we fought it to a draw."
"While I don't like this bill -- I think much more could have been done to invest, create jobs and the rest -- it's an okay thing to vote for," Pelosi said during a press briefing Thursday.
The budget deal, crafted by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, would ease some of the automatic cuts to federal spending known as sequestration, while preserving some of the reductions in agency funding won by Republicans in the 2011 budget showdown. It would also stem the risk of another government shutdown, otherwise set to take effect by the Jan. 15 deadline.
Support of the Ryan-Murray budget deal is becoming a defining moment for House Republicans. While a group of the most conservative members are opposing the deal, Speaker Boehner is urging his caucus to fall in line. "Listen, if you're for more deficit reduction, you're for this agreement," Boehner said at a briefing alongside Ryan Wednesday.
Without an overwhelming number of Republican votes, passage will require substantial Democratic backing in the House. Pelosi and Democratic House leadership refrained from publicly backing the deal until Thursday, after Pelosi told members at a morning meeting to "embrace the suck" and vote for the deal, Politico reported.
"I don't think our members will let this bill go down," Pelosi said during Thursday's briefing, framing her caucus as the consensus-builders in an atmosphere of partisan gridlock.
Despite that, she chided Republicans for refusing to vote on including an etension of unemployment benefits in the bill before the House leaves for recess on Friday. Federal emergency unemployment benefits are set to expire on Dec. 28 -- and Congress is due to return in January. While the extension could be attached to another bill before Friday, emergency aid to 1.3 million Americans hangs in the balance.
"We really thought that was the right thing to do, to do the unemployment insurance, especially when you need our votes," Pelosi said, calling the rejection "unconscionable" and "practically at the level of immoral."
"I told my members we have to go forward with what's before us right now, but that doesn't diminish the importance of this," Pelosi said.