The Senate voted to take up the fiscal year 2018 budget resolution (BR) for debate, which includes reconciliation instructions for tax reform, by a party-line vote of 50 to 47). The Senate must pass a budget resolution for GOP lawmakers to have a legislative vehicle for tax reform. A Senate vote on the BR is expected on Friday, October 20, after allowing for 50 hours of debate.
Using a BR unlocks the reconciliation process for tax reform, which enables GOP lawmakers in the Senate to pass legislation by a simple majority, rather than 60 votes, if no Democratic support can be garnered. Senate Democrats criticize the BR for implementing budget cuts for the sake of providing tax cuts to the wealthy.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a controversial figure in the BR’s prospect for success, voted yes to take up debate on the BR, but has expressed criticism of the measure for not including budget caps, stating it is not currently fiscally conservative. If approved, the Senate and House will likely go to conference to reconcile the differences between the two BRs.
“Specifically, this budget resolution contains a $1.5-trillion reconciliation instruction for tax reform. That is a good number, putting meaningful tax reform within reach,” Senate Finance Committee (SFC) Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, said on the Senate floor on October 17. Hatch stated that the taxwriting SFC is currently crafting tax reform legislation pursuant to the guideposts of the Trump administration and top GOP lawmakers’ unified framework.
“Our bill, based on the unified tax reform framework, will give much-needed relief to millions of low-to-middle income families. But, without this budget resolution…we’re unlikely to get there,” Hatch said.