House Passes Spending Bill Paving The Way For Tax Reform

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The House passed its $1.1 trillion 2018 budget resolution on Thursday in a party-line vote that moves Republicans one step closer to sending tax-reform legislation to President Trump.

In a 219-206 vote, legislators approved the budget resolution for 2018 which sets up a process for eliminating the threat of a filibuster of the GOP tax bill in the Senate. 18 Republicans voted against the bill along with every Democrat present.

Republicans hailed the vote as an important step to advancing tax reform.

“We haven’t reformed this tax system since 1986. We need to pass this budget so we can help bring more jobs, fairer taxes, and bigger paychecks for people across this country,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said during House floor debate.

Democrats in the House attacked the budget claiming it was solely about tax reform and allowing the Senate to pass the measure through the budget reconciliation process.

“This budget isn’t about conservative policy or reducing the size of our debts and deficits. It’s not even about American families. This budget is about one thing — using budget reconciliation to ram through giant tax giveaways to the wealthy and big corporations — and to do it without bipartisan support,” said Representative John Yarmouth (D-Kentucky), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee.

The budget reconciliation process would allow Senate Republicans to pass the tax reform bill with a 51 vote majority and eliminate the threat of a filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) would have a margin of two votes to pass the bill with Vice President Mike Pence casting a tie breaking vote.

Senate Republicans, who attempted to the use the budget reconciliation process to repeal the Affordable Care Act several times and failed, are hoping for a better outcome with tax reform.

However, Republicans have already issued warnings about the tax bill with some raising concerns about estimated $1.5 trillion the bill is expected to add to the deficit, and others voicing discontent at the removal of the deductions for state and local taxes.

Currently the tax bill consolidates the existing seven individual tax brackets into three, with rates of 12%, 25%, and 35%. However, the committees working on the bill may add an even high fourth bracket for the wealthiest Americans. 

The House budget would increase defense spending by $72 billion and cut non-defense spending by $5 billion. It would also cut $203 billion from welfare programs such as nutritional assistance and education. 

House Republicans say their resolution would balance the budget over the next 10 years.

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tennessee) the House Budget Committee Chair said the government needs to balance its budget. “For too long, both parties in Washington have failed to abide by a simple principle that all American families and small businesses do, that we must live within our means. Balancing the budget requires us to make some tough decisions but the consequences of inaction far outweigh any political risk we may face.”

After the Senate votes on its budget bill, lawmakers will have to go to conference to sort out the differences between the bills.