Washington (CNN) – Senate Republican leaders Tuesday put pressure on GOP moderates balking at voting for a budget-slashing bill passed by House Republicans.
Democrats had planned to vote Tuesday on the House bill – which would cut government spending by $61 billion-as well as a competing, scaled-down, measure proposed by Democrats but Senate leaders indicated late Tuesday the vote would likely slide until Wednesday.
Democrats blamed Republican leaders for deliberately stalling action on the dueling spending bills so they could work to prevent politically damaging GOP defections from the House Republican bill. Democrats said sagging GOP support is proof that the cuts in the bill are too deep.
"Now it seems Republicans themselves must have finally read their own budget," Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said. "Because now even they're running away from it."
Republicans publicly denied they were stalling.
Republicans also pointed to problems Democrats have securing votes for their bill.
Freshman Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced Tuesday he would vote against the bill because it doesn't cut enough government spending. Several other moderate Democrats, surveyed by CNN, declined to say if they would support the bill.
The House GOP bill, which includes funding cuts for environmental protections, Planned Parenthood, low-income heating assistance and other programs, is difficult for many Republicans to support, said Senate Democratic whip Dick Durbin of Illinois.
"It's a painful vote for those who still cling to the belief they are moderate Republicans," he said. "I'm not going to name names but I can think of half a dozen Republicans who do not want to be on record cutting funding for Planned Parenthood."
Republicans leaders acknowledged they were struggling to unify their caucus.
Emerging from an hour-long meeting with all Senate Republicans Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, who as the whip is in charge of securing Republican votes, admitted he had more work to do.
Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the third ranking Republican, said leaders were trying to convince wavering GOP senators that $61 billion was the right spending reduction total but that many of the specific programs cuts in the House bill could be altered to ease senators' concerns.
"My sense is that Republicans are united in support of the amount of reductions that the House of Representatives has passed," Alexander said. "We'll want to reserve for ourselves the right to set our own priorities within that reduced amount."
One centrist GOP senator, who has not committed to voting for the Republicans bill, has been under enormous pressure from GOP leaders in recent days not to vote against the House bill, an aide told CNN.
Several other moderate Republicans surveyed by CNN refused to say how they will vote.
Frustrated over the delay, Reid accused Republican leaders of "reneging" on a deal reached last week in a meeting with Vice President Biden. At the time, leaders from both parties said they wanted to cast votes on the two bills in order to prove neither could muster enough support to pass the Senate and additional concessions would be needed from the right and left.