Updated: Senate Budget Would Ease Path for $1.5 Trillion Tax Cut

Enzi plans a markup in committee next week

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Michael B. Enzi is planning to mark up the draft fiscal 2018 budget resolution next week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate Budget Committee on Friday released its version of the fiscal 2018 budget resolution that, once adopted by Congress, will allow Republicans to advance a tax bill through the reconciliation process.

The 89-page draft resolution would allow the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees to increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion during the next decade in order to advance a tax overhaul bill, and sends instructions to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources and House Natural Resources Committees to reduce the deficit by $1 billion during the 10-year budget window, seen as a vehicle potentially to open up a portion of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration. The House and Senate committees are supposed to turn in their recommendations to the Budget committees by Nov. 13.

The Senate’s budget release precedes a two-day markup the committee will undertake next week. Senate GOP leaders expect to bring the resolution to the floor for debate and the marathon voting session known as vote-a-rama the week of Oct. 16, according to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn.

Inside the Senate’s Budget Resolution: What It Means and What’s Next

The resolution sets topline discretionary spending in fiscal 2018, which begins on Oct. 1, at $549 billion for defense and $516 billion for nondefense discretionary spending. Those numbers align with the spending caps required under the 2011 Budget Control Act, but differ greatly from the $621.5 billion for defense and $511 billion for nondefense discretionary spending included in the House budget resolution.

Those topline spending levels don’t indicate that Senate Republicans want to adhere to the budget law spending levels. There is a point of order against the Senate’s budget resolution exceeding those spending caps. The spending caps will likely be increased later this year, once congressional leaders and the White House can agree on how to increase the fiscal 2018 caps and enact legislation codifying the higher numbers.

The reconciliation instructions in the Senate’s resolution also vary greatly from the House resolution, which the House Budget panel approved in July and is expected to receive a floor vote Thursday. The House’s budget resolution calls for 11 committees to find a total of $203 billion in mandatory savings during the next decade.

While the discretionary spending levels in the final budget resolution won’t have any impact on altering the spending caps set in law, the reconciliation instructions will have to be worked out by a conference committee. Until they are, and a final budget resolution is officially adopted by Congress, the tax-writing committees cannot technically begin advancing Republicans’ tax overhaul bill.

Paul M. Krawzak contributed to this story.


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