Senate begins moving through amendments on way to budget

The Senate turned away a handful of Republican amendments on Friday as Democrats worked to win approval of their budget for the first time in four years.

More than 400 amendments have been filed to the budget, but Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination The Memo: Teens rankle the right with gun activism Dems to party: Go on offense with Trump’s alleged affairs MORE (D-Nev.) said Friday he’d seek to limit debate to between 25 and 35 of them in a "vote-a-rama."

On paper, Democrats can only afford five defections on the climactic budget vote, which is expected either late Friday or early Saturday morning. But Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) has been ill and is not working today, which means Democrats can only afford four defections. His office said Friday he is available to vote on the budget if he is needed

ADVERTISEMENT
Early indications suggest they’ll be able to move their 10-year budget on a party-line vote, despite reservations some Democratic senators up for reelection have about supporting a budget that includes nearly $1 trillion in new taxes.

Four of those senators — Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE of Arkansas, Mark BegichMark Peter BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE of Alaska, Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOvernight Defense: Congress poised for busy week on nominations, defense bill | Trump to deliver Naval Academy commencement speech | Trump administration appeals decision to block suspected combatant's transfer The Hill's Morning Report: Inside the Comey memos Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo MORE of North Dakota and Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusGreen Party puts Dem seat at risk in Montana Business groups worried about Trump's China tariffs plan Farmers hit Trump on trade in new ad MORE of Montana — said Friday they remained undecided on the bill.

“We’ll see how it looks and how it’s amended,” said Pryor, a top target of Senate Republicans.

Other undecided Democrats to watch include Sens. Kay HaganKay Ruthven Hagan2020 Dems compete for top campaign operatives Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Politics is purple in North Carolina MORE (D-N.C.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyDemocrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo Heitkamp becomes first Dem to back Pompeo for secretary of State Trump checkmates Democrats in sending Pompeo to North Korea MORE (D-Ind.). Hagan is also up for reelection in 2014, and her office said Friday she is still undecided.

Begich was pushing Friday for amendments totaling $400 million in spending cuts including to defense and agriculture.

There have been some signs that Democrats will be able to pass their budget.

Only one Democrat — Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo Heitkamp becomes first Dem to back Pompeo for secretary of State Trump eyes Cold War statute to keep coal burning: report MORE (D-W.Va.) — broke ranks to support a key GOP motion on Thursday night. The motion simply called for Democrats to rewrite their budget so that it balanced within 10 years.

The entire Democratic Caucus also rejected a GOP amendment to replace the budget's tax reform instructions, which raises $975 billion in revenue, with instructions to complete revenue-neutral tax reform.

Senators agreed to hold six amendment votes at around noon, including three from Republicans that fell in 45-54 party-line votes.

As expected, the Senate turned away language from Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz's Dem challenger slams Time piece praising Trump Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election 32 male senators back Senate women's calls to change harassment rules MORE (R-Texas) that would repeal the 2010 healthcare law. Repeal language would match the language found in the GOP budget the House passed on Thursday, but the Democratic Senate killed it 45-54.

Another GOP amendment, from Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteAudit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years No, the US did not spend million on a gas station in Afghanistan MORE (R-N.H.), would prevent a vote on any budget plan that calls for increased taxes when the unemployment rate is above 5.5 percent. The Senate killed her idea 45-54.

And a proposal from Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoAmericans are set for relief from an Obama-era financial rule Watchdog files complaint GOP senator did not report fundraisers held at condo co-owned by lobbyist’s wife Overnight Finance: Mulvaney asks Congress to retake power over consumer agency | Backs House in fight over Dodd-Frank rollback | Why Corker thinks tax cuts could be one of his 'worst votes' ever | House panel advances IRS reform bills MORE (R-Idaho), which would repeal the tax increases from the healthcare law, was also shot down 45-54.

The House did accept three Democratic amendments, including two that had support from Republicans. They would allow Congress to pass a law protecting women against paycheck discrimination and protect lower-income Americans from tax hikes. The first one was approved by voice vote.

Approval of amendments, however, does not change U.S. law, as they are simply amendments to a non-binding budget resolution. Thus, Thursday's approval of an amendment calling for an end to the medical device tax will not result in the actual repeal of that tax.

Reid and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Energy: Senate confirms Bridenstine as NASA chief | Watchdog probes Pruitt’s use of security detail | Emails shine light on EPA science policy changes Duckworth brings her baby to Senate vote, drawing a crowd Maternal deaths keep rising in US, raising scrutiny MORE (D-Wash.) say their plan would reduce the deficit by $4 trillion.

But it includes nearly $1 trillion in new taxes that could be difficult for some centrist Democrats to support. And because the Democratic budget turns off the sequester's automatic spending cuts, Republicans argue it would increase spending over the next decade.

The House approved its own budget on Thursday. It would lower tax rates while reducing spending by $5.7 trillion, and would balance in 10 years.

The two budgets are unlikely to be reconciled, but will serve as messaging vehicles for both sides, particularly as the White House works with Congress on a possible deficit-reduction deal in conjunction with raising the debt ceiling this summer.

--This report was updated at 3:45 p.m.