Centrists shield budget

Six Senate Democratic centrists yesterday moved to bolster their party’s budget and shield Democrats’ fiscal plan from GOP attacks with extensions of the Bush administration’s middle-class tax cuts.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman 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 (D-Mont.) offered the tax-cut amendment, which the Senate approved yesterday evening. Baucus would direct the $132 billion budget surplus Democrats aim to achieve toward several of President Bush’s tax breaks, including a doubled child-tax credit, marriage-penalty relief and lower estate-tax rates.

Baucus’s cosponsors were two colleagues facing reelection next year, Sens. 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 (Ark.) and Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuSenate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Project Veritas at risk of losing fundraising license in New York, AG warns You want to recall John McCain? Good luck, it will be impossible MORE (La.), as well as Evan Bayh (Ind.), Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonSenators debate new business deduction, debt in tax law hearing Winners and losers from Jim Bridenstine’s confirmation as NASA administrator Vulnerable Senate Dems have big cash advantages MORE (Fla.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.). The plan secures an additional $15 billion in on-budget funds for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which the Finance panel is set to reauthorize this year.

Baucus’s amendment hardly silenced Republicans, who have hammered Democrats all week for initially assuming the Bush tax cuts would expire unless offsets to extend them were found. Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense: VA nominee on the ropes | White House signals it will fight for pick | Trump talks Syria with Macron | McConnell tees up Pompeo vote Schumer to oppose Pompeo as secretary of State Trump's nominee for the VA is on the ropes MORE (R-Ky.) issued a statement finding “the good news … that Democrats admit they have a tax problem here and tried to fix it.”

Baucus acknowledged on the floor that the tax-cut extensions were contingent upon the budget surplus materializing. “It says, ‘Let’s take this surplus and, if we have a surplus, that’s the priorities that it should be used for,’” he said.