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Senate spending votes may be delayed

From NBC's Ken Strickland and Carrie Dann
As of this morning, the Senate was expected to vote on two competing government funding bills – one Republican-backed measure that would cut $61 billion from current spending levels, and one sponsored by Democrats that would cut far less.

Now, it looks like that vote may not happen until tomorrow, and both sides are pointing fingers over the delay.

What happened?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claims that Republican leader Mitch McConnell reneged on a deal the leaders reached with Vice President Joe Biden last week to have up-or-down votes on both measures.

“We agreed to hold a vote on the Republican plan … and then vote on the Democratic plan, which makes much smarter cuts and more solid investments.  Then we would return to the negotiating table and try again to find common ground,” Reid fumed on the Senate floor Tuesday morning.  

Now, he says, Republicans “don’t want to vote on their own bill.”

Republicans push back hard on that claim, saying the vote will happen -- either today or tomorrow -- but that the Senate has to finish a pending patent reform bill first.

Democrats say privately that McConnell doesn't want to take the vote until he can be assured that he won't have any defections on the GOP-House passed bill. That measure would cut about $61-billion in spending, which could be a tough pill to swallow for some moderate Republicans wary of the cuts' effects on the economy.

Several GOP aides tell NBC News that the vote will be "very tough" for some GOP members who have remained officially "undecided" on how they'd vote on the House bill.