The Senate approved the Republican-backed budget Thursday night, a major step forward for the GOP effort to enact tax cuts.
The budget’s passage will allow the GOP to use a procedural maneuver to pass tax legislation through the Senate with 50 or more votes, removing the need for support from Democratic senators.
“Tonight, we completed the first step toward replacing our broken tax code … We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to replace a failing tax code that holds Americans back with one that actually works for them,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said following the 51-49 vote.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who believes the budget ought to reduce the deficit, was the only Republican to vote against it.
The budget opens the door to expanding the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
Tax cuts that have become Republicans’ essential policy objective since the Senate failed to pass multiple bills to rewrite Obamacare. Approval of the budget is expected to help shore up ties between Senate GOP leaders and President Trump, who is angry at Republicans’ failure on health care and bent on Congress approving a tax-reform package by the end of the year.
At the same time, by agreeing to the massive tax cut, Senate Republicans have officially moved the party far away from its promised goal of ensuring that the tax plan would not add to the deficit. The White House and House Republicans had vowed that the tax cuts would be offset with new revenue from the elimination of certain deductions, but that is no longer the GOP’s goal. Instead, they have abandoned longstanding party orthodoxy of deficit reduction and are seeking a political win after months of frustration on Capitol Hill.
The White House, in a statement issued Thursday night, said Trump “applauds the Senate” for passing the budget resolution and “taking an important step in advancing the Administration’s pro-growth and pro-jobs legislative agenda.”
The Senate approved an amendment Thursday night that paved the way for the House to adopt its version of the budget. This could eliminate the need for a conference committee, which might expedite consideration of tax reform by several weeks, according to a House GOP aide.