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 ReidOvernight Defense: VA chief 'deeply' regrets Disney remark; Senate fight brews over Gitmo Overnight Healthcare: House loosens pesticide rules to fight Zika | A GOP bill that keeps some of ObamaCare | More proof of pending premium hikes The Trail 2016: Digging up dirt 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

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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 PryorEx-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Top Democrats are no advocates for DC statehood Ex-Sen. Landrieu joins law and lobby firm MORE of Arkansas, Mark BegichMark BegichEx-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Unable to ban Internet gambling, lawmakers try for moratorium Dem ex-lawmakers defend Schumer on Iran MORE of Alaska, Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampHouse Dems urge Senate panel to vote on Ex-Im Bank nominee Senate Dems frustrated over lack of action on Ex-Im Bank nominee Overnight Regulation: Schumer offering gun control bill MORE of North Dakota and Max BaucusMax BaucusWyden unveils business tax proposal College endowments under scrutiny The chaotic fight for ObamaCare 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 Hagan10 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2016 Senate Republicans are feeling the 'Trump effect' Washington's lobby firms riding high MORE (D-N.C.) and Joe DonnellyJoe DonnellyThis week: GOP lawmakers reckon with Trump Democrats block energy spending bill over Iran amendment GOP blocks Obama sanctions czar 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 ManchinJoe ManchinHow Congress got to yes on toxic chemical reform Red-state Dem hits back over coal, court attacks How Senate Democrats are trying to deal with Sanders 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 CruzTed CruzTrump wins Washington state primary Overnight Cybersecurity: House to offer bill on government hacking powers Overnight Tech: Rubio, Cruz take up internet domain fight 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 AyotteVA secretary comes under fire for comparing wait times to Disneyland Juan Williams: Electoral map looks grim for Trump Liberal super-PAC hits Johnson for supporting Trump 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 CrapoMike CrapoOvernight Finance: Path clears for Puerto Rico bill | GOP senator casts doubt on IRS impeachment | Senate approves .1B for Zika Senate passes broad spending bill with .1B in Zika funds Housing groups argue Freddie Mac's loss should spur finance reform 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 MurrayPatty MurraySenate passes broad spending bill with .1B in Zika funds The Hill's 12:30 Report Senate approves Zika funds 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.


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