Senate Passes Budget Resolution Clearing the Way to pass Tax Reform with a Simple Majority
The Senate passed its fiscal-year 2018 budget resolution Thursday, opening the door for the passage of Republican leadership's massive package to overhaul the tax code.
The resolution passed by a vote of 51-to-49, with Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky representing the only Republican defector.
The budget's passage represents a key step because it contains instructions for the process known as budget reconciliation. Reconciliation will allow Republicans the chance to pass a tax bill through the chamber with a simple majority and avoid a Democratic filibuster. This is important since the GOP holds only 52 seats, a slim majority.
Since the budget is different from the House's version, it needs to go back to the lower chamber and receive approval before being enacted.
House and Senate GOP leadership did come to a deal that adjusted the Senate budget at the last minute to try to ensure that House conservatives would vote for the Senate version without going through a protracted conference committee.
Among other things, the deal would allow increased defense spending and require Congress to use dynamic scoring when evaluating a tax proposal. The changes were adopted along party lines.
There was some doubt over the budget — Paul, John McCain, and other Republicans expressed misgivings about some aspects of the resolution. Sen. Bob Corker said that the budget process was a sham and that the budget was being passed only so lawmakers could focus on taxes.
"This is the biggest hoax passed upon the American people ever, that this budget process even exists," Corker said. "The only thing about this that matters is preparation for tax reform, moving beyond the parliamentary issues that we have to deal with on the Senate side. But other than that, these amendment votes, they're all — everything about this is a hoax. It's a hoax."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was ultimately able to garner enough votes, including Corker's, to get the bill through the chamber.