The Senate formally kicked off what’s known as a vote-a-rama on Thursday — hours of theatrics intended to lead up to approval of the 2018 budget resolution needed to enact the GOP tax plan without fear of a Democratic filibuster.
“The only thing about this that matters is preparation for the tax reform,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said about the budget, adding that he’d dismantle the Senate Budget Committee if he headed it. "Unless we create a real budget process, which this is not, our country’s fiscal situation will continue to go down the tube, and we have no mechanism to control real spending, 70 percent of which is mandatory, that’s not even covered by this.”
But the vote-a-rama that Corker called a “hoax” carries at least some political significance. “Prepare for a smorgasbord of symbolic tax amendments crafted for messaging and trolling purposes,” Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur tweeted. One example: The Senate rejected a Democratic amendment aimed at keeping the deduction for state and local taxes, but it adopted a Republican measure that would allow that deduction to be reduced. Democrats sought to narrow their proposed amendments to four issues, all tax-related, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said: “One, tax breaks aimed at the very wealthy; two, no tax increases for the middle class; three, no cuts to Medicare and Medicaid; and four, deficit neutral.”
The bottom line: By late Thursday or early Friday, Senate Republicans are likely to have their budget passed.
Next up: The House and Senate will turn next week to reconciling their very different budgets and settle on something that both chambers can accept as a start to tax reform.