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For Tax Cut Bill, Senators Face Vote on Boosting Deficit

Coburn plans to force senators to vote on increasing the deficit before the Senate can pass a tax cut bill. Others are considering attaching an unemployment extension. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senators will likely face a separate vote on boosting the deficit in order to pass an $85 billion tax cut extenders bill, according to key Senate Republicans.  

Retiring Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a staunch opponent of the extenders bill, said he would "raise every order I can" to block the bill and "try to get us to do the right thing" for taxpayers.  

He expects someone on the Budget Committee to raise a budget point of order. And, “If they don’t I will,” Coburn said.  

"I will raise every order I can to try to get us to do the right thing as far as the American taxpayer and our kids" are concerned, he continued.  

Could extenders be used as leverage to force House action on a Senate unemployment extension bill?  

“The answer is maybe,” said Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt.  

But Sanders also said some of the tax cut extensions are important to middle class families, including those that support affordable housing, and would help the nation move to more sustainable energy.  

"There are some very good provisions and some very terrible provisions," Sanders said.  

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said he may try to attach the unemployment extension bill , which he helped draft, to the extenders measure. But that doesn't seem likely given that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is not expected to allow amendments.  

Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said he will "probably" raise a point of order against the two-year resurrection of more than 50 tax cuts that expired at the end of last year.  

The vote could show how Washington's priorities have shifted away from an obsession with deficits — as borrowing has dropped to the lowest level since before the recession.  

It would take 60 votes to overcome a budget point of order and waive budget rules — the same number needed to overcome procedural hurdles on the overall bill. But senators would be on record violating the budget law now in place and adding to the deficit and debt as a result.  

The bill would be subject to a point of order for violating the revenue levels established in the budget law authored by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis. The measure also violates the Senate PAYGO rule because it adds to the deficit.  

The White House recently told CQ Roll Call that it believes that extenders should be offset. But, for the moment, Senate Democrats appear ready to defy the White House. Update 5/13: The White House declined to issue a veto threat.