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10 Senate Budget Amendments to Watch For

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Senate Democrats have pushed for a vote on Ryan’s spending blueprint so that they can talk about how much they dislike it.

Adoption of a budget amendment tied to that effort could send a sign of support for a bill by Vitter and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. Their proposal goes a step further than the moratorium on congressional pay increases that’s become a routine part of spending bills.

6. Internet sales tax

Sens. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and others will ask for a vote to express support for legislation to allow states to collect taxes on online purchases across state lines. The proposal has won the backing of many more retailers, but it faces vociferous opposition from states without their own sales taxes, such as New Hampshire. Plus, Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., opposes it.

7. Tax Revisions

There will be no shortage of test votes on the tax code as members stake out their ground for upcoming battles over a tax overhaul. Republican Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and Roy Blunt of Missouri took to the Senate floor to outline a series of proposals in opposition to the estate tax and any potential tax on carbon. The two Republican leaders also discussed an effort to reject higher taxes on charitable donations.

8. Tax Increases

Speaking of taxes, Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, wants to eliminate the budget’s directive to raise $975 billion in revenues. Grassley, a former Finance Committee chairman, warned that, in his view, there were not sufficient revenue raisers available to meet the demands of the budget instructions provided to the Senate’s tax writers. Republicans will instead push for a revenue-neutral tax code overhaul.

9. Obamacare

While votes to repeal the 2010 health care law are possible, a bipartisan group of Senators have set their sights on a much smaller piece of that measure. A 2.3 percent medical device tax has proved terribly unpopular, and Finance ranking member Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, and Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota are leading an effort to get senators on the record against it.

10. Chained CPI

Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., is continuing his push against changing the way increases in Social Security benefits are calculated. Sanders has an amendment that expresses opposition to a GOP plan to tweak the Consumer Price Index, which determines benefit payout levels.

Of course, the most important thing to remember is that, regardless of whether any amendment is adopted, budgets do not have the force of law.

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