Senate narrowly passes budget blueprint, clears way for tax reform

Senate narrowly passes budget blueprint, clears way for tax reform
Senate Republicans have passed a $4-trillion budget blueprint that will introduce historic tax cuts. Democrats, who failed to stop the measure, say it will result in huge deficits and a departure from normal procedures.

Republicans narrowly backed the budget plan in a 51-49 vote on Thursday night, with only Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) crossing the aisle to vote with the Democrats. The GOP managed to fend off all attempts by the opposition to reshape the blueprint and derail President Donald Trump’s tax reform plan.

The vote “allows for the passage of large scale Tax Cuts (and Reform),” Trump said in a tweet on Friday morning.

“This is the biggest hoax cast upon the American people ever,” said Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), according to The Hill. Even so, the outspoken Trump critic said he voted for the measure because, “the only thing about this that matters is in preparation for tax reform.”

Another Trump foe, Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), agreed with Corker and said: “At the end of the day, we all know that the Senate budget resolution will not impact final appropriations.”

All 46 Democrats and their allied senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Angus King (I-Maine) voted against the measure. One of the features of the Senate proposal is that it would remove the option of a filibuster, whereby a senator can hold up the proceedings if a proposal lacks 60 affirmative votes.

READ MORE: ‘Vote-a-rama’: Senate takes up 2018 budget resolution

The bill instructs the Senate Finance Committee to deliver a tax plan by November 13, less than one month before a deadline for Congress to pass specific discretionary funding for the government or else face a shutdown.

Democrats also objected to proposed cuts to Medicare, $473 billion over 10 years, and to Medicaid, over $1 trillion. Some moderate Republicans, however, are expected not to support these figures in a truly binding bill, as McCain couched his support in assuring constituents that these cuts will not make it to the actual spending bill later this year.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, is also impacted by the vote, as the blueprint calls on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to raise $1 billion in the next decade. ANWR, which consists of over 19-million acres of natural landscape in northeastern Alaska, has long been a target of the oil and drilling industries. Its reserves would provide the only feasible route for profit to meet the legislation’s demands.

The Trump administration has pushed for the drilling plan, a longstanding Republican goal, as a way to pay for sweeping tax cuts proposed by the President.

Trump’s tax reform would overhaul the US tax code, cutting rates for individuals and corporations while clearing away trillions of dollars’ worth of deductions and special-interest tax breaks. If passed, the tax cuts would add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the coming decade, critics say.