U.S. Senate Republicans gain moment on tax reform budget measure

Lawmakers and Trump want to sign a tax reform package into law by January 2018.

Aaron P. Bernstein—Reuters
The U.S. Capitol Building is seen May 17 in Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senate Republicans on Monday gained crucial support for a vote on a budget resolution, key to enacting sweeping tax reform for the first time in 30 years. President Donald Trump and Republican leaders want the tax changes signed into law by January.

Two Republican lawmakers, once seen as potential “no” votes, said they would likely support the measure. A third, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), may vote “yes” depending on what the final resolution looks like.

“I am leaning ‘yes’,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told reporters as the chamber prepared for what is expected to be a late Thursday vote on the fiscal 2018 spending blueprint.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine announced on Sunday that she will likely vote yes.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives must agree on a budget resolution to unlock a legislative tool known as reconciliation that Republicans need to move tax legislation through the Senate without support from Democrats.

Though Murkowski said her final decision would depend on what amendments are added to the budget, her qualified support reduces the possibility of failure.

Murkowski was one of three Republicans who sank the Senate health care bill in July.

Paul told reporters there is a possibility he will vote yes. “We’re in discussions on it. We’re trying to get it to a document that we think represents what we stand for,” Paul said.

Without a budget and reconciliation, Republicans would need 60 votes in the Senate, where they hold a 52-48 majority.

Republicans usually can lose no more than two votes. But with Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) ill, their margin of error for the budget has shrunk to only one “no” vote.

Earlier, the White House released a report saying middle-class Americans would eventually see their incomes rise more than $4,000 from the Trump plan to cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent.

Democrats have lambasted the Trump tax plan as a giveaway for the wealthy.

Trump fired back in a separate tweet on Monday: “The Democrats only want to increase taxes and obstruct. That’s all they are good at!”