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 ReidDems leery of Planned Parenthood cuts spark Senate scuffle Overnight Finance: Senate sends Puerto Rico bill to Obama | Treasury, lawmakers to meet on tax rules | Obama hits Trump on NAFTA | Fed approves most banks' capital plans Senate passes Puerto Rico debt relief bill 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 BegichSenate GOP deeply concerned over Trump effect Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Unable to ban Internet gambling, lawmakers try for moratorium MORE of Alaska, Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA McConnell quashes Senate effort on guns Senators roll out bipartisan gun proposal MORE of North Dakota and Max BaucusMax BaucusGlover Park Group now lobbying for Lyft Wyden unveils business tax proposal College endowments under scrutiny 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 DonnellyOvernight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal Senate Democrats block Zika agreement ahead of recess Post Orlando, hawks make a power play 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 ManchinOvernight Finance: Trump threatens NAFTA withdrawal | Senate poised for crucial Puerto Rico vote | Ryan calls for UK trade deal | Senate Dems block Zika funding deal Overnight Energy: Volkswagen reaches .7B settlement over emissions Senators rally for coal miner pension fix 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: Rivals who don't back me shouldn't be allowed to run for office Kasich touts poll showing he does better against Clinton than Trump Two transgender candidates win primaries 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 AyotteSenator calls for pause in accepting Syrian refugees after Istanbul attack GOP Senate super-PAC reserves M in airtime Pollster: Clinton leads in 5 battlegrounds 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 CrapoPost Orlando, hawks make a power play Overnight Cybersecurity: Senate narrowly rejects expanding FBI surveillance powers Senate narrowly rejects new FBI surveillance 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 MurrayOvernight Finance: Senate sends Puerto Rico bill to Obama | Treasury, lawmakers to meet on tax rules | Obama hits Trump on NAFTA | Fed approves most banks' capital plans Overnight Healthcare: Sanders, Clinton ally jockey for health gavel Senate Dems pledge to keep fighting over Zika 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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