The Democratic-controlled Senate appears set to approve its first budget resolution in four years.
Votes on amendments to the budget began Thursday night, with a final vote set for late Friday or early Saturday.
In a sign of caucus unity, only one Democrat 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.
Democrats can only afford to lose only five votes on their budget, which would allow Vice President Biden to cast a tie-breaking ballot. A handful of Democrats from red states, several of whom are facing reelection in 2014, are the key.
Undecided senators include Sens. Max BaucusMax BaucusChanging of the guard at DC’s top lobby firm GOP hasn’t reached out to centrist Dem senators Five reasons why Tillerson is likely to get through MORE (D-Mont.), Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE (D-N.C.), Mark PryorMark PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (D-Ark.), Mark BegichMark BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE (D-Alaska), Joe DonnellyJoe DonnellyGOP rep to potential Senate rival: Don't run Trump’s Army pick faces tough confirmation fight Senate Dems target potential GOP candidates over ObamaCare repeal MORE (D-Ind.) and Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampBusiness groups silent on Trump's Ex-Im nominee Sanders supporter to run against red-state Democrat GOP lays out regulatory reform wish list MORE (D-N.D.). If they all voted “no,” the budget would fail.
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidWarren builds her brand with 2020 down the road 'Tuesday Group' turncoats must use recess to regroup on ObamaCare Dem senator says his party will restore 60-vote Supreme Court filibuster MORE (D-Nev.) has prevented a budget resolution from being debated since 2009 in part to protect his members from tough votes.
But he has signaled this year will be different.
“We're going to finish the budget before we leave here for the Easter break,” Reid promised this week. “That is for sure. My caucus knows this."
Vulnerable Democratic senators could be seen going in and out of Reid’s office on Thursday as Senate leaders tried to shore up their troops.
Sen. Jon TesterJon TesterDems hunt for a win in Montana special election Tester raises M for reelection The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Mont.) emerged to say he had decided at the last minute to support the plan. “We looked through it. We think attacks the deficit from a reasonable perspective and protects investments to get the economy going,” Tester said.
He said he didn’t know if it would pass, and said if an amendment allowing online purchases to be hit with sales taxes were attached it would be a problem for him.
Other vulnerable Democrats like Sens. Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Five unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist MORE (La.) and Tim JohnsonTim JohnsonCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Bank lobbyists counting down to Shelby’s exit Former GOP senator endorses Clinton after Orlando shooting MORE (S.D.) have joined Tester in supporting the budget.
Reid and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty MurrayPatty MurrayOvernight Healthcare: GOP healthcare talks stall | Ryan takes backset to Pence in new repeal effort | FDA nominee grilled over industry ties Senators battle over FDA nominee's financial ties FDA nominee won't commit to banning flavored e-cigarettes, cigars 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 Senate budget is unlikely to be reconciled with the House budget to become law, but that won’t stop the GOP from using Democratic votes for the budget in future campaign ads.
Reid and Murray are selling the budget as a “balanced approach” backed by the public in the 2012 elections.
They argue that, counting $1.8 trillion in spending cuts from the last Congress, the plan adds up to more than $4 trillion in deficit reduction — a feat in line with the 2010 recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson Commission.
Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsDNC chairman slams Sessions for deportation comments Trump: Mexico will 'eventually' pay for border wall Becerra fires back: 'We're not in the business of deportation' MORE (R-Ala.), the Budget panel’s ranking member, argued that the budget uses gimmicks and actually increases spending.
“The budget before us today is a bankrupt vision that will bankrupt the country,” Sessions said. “It’s a jaded tax and spend budget — a budget that never balances, never.”
Democrats’ ability to move their budget will depend in part on whether they can fight off GOP amendments, which only take a majority vote to be added to the bill.
The voting process, which could go well into Saturday morning, could see votes on President Obama’s healthcare reform legislation, gun control, welfare work requirements, automatic congressional pay increases, illegal immigration and whether White House officials should be paid when they have not produced a budget on time, as is the case this year.
Liberal Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersKasich: 'I think political parties are on their way out' Sanders: Democratic Party's model is 'failing' Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road MORE (I-Vt.), Mazie HironoMazie Hirono March for Science rallies draw huge crowds around US Dems knock Trump on Earth Day Hawaii senators fire back at Sessions' 'island in the Pacific' comment MORE (D-Hawaii) and Tom HarkinTom HarkinDistance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream MORE (D-Iowa) have an amendment that would ban the use of the chained consumer price index to calculate increases in benefits for inflation to Social Security and other programs.
Obama has put the proposal on the table in deficit talks with Republicans, but the Senate budget core text is silent on chained CPI.
Senate Democrats on Thursday forced a vote on the House-passed budget authored by Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanFive fights for Trump’s first year Sunday shows preview: Trump stares down 100-day mark Ryan: Focus is on keeping government open, not healthcare MORE (R-Wis.), which balances in 10 years using deep spending cuts. It was voted down 40 to 59, with GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsCollins: I'm not working with Freedom Caucus chairman on healthcare Mexico: Recent deportations 'a violation' of US immigration rules White House denies misleading public in aircraft carrier mix-up MORE (Maine), Dean HellerDean HellerObama-linked group launches ads targeting Republicans on immigration Nevada Dem rep considering Senate run against Heller Vulnerable GOP senator faces rancorous town hall MORE (Nev.), Mike LeeMike LeeTrump should work with Congress to block regulations on prepaid cards Sweeping change at DOJ under Sessions Executive orders alone can't create sustainable deregulatory change MORE (Utah), Rand PaulRand PaulWe can put America first by preventing public health disasters Conservative activists want action from Trump McConnell: 'Big challenge' to pass ObamaCare repeal in Senate MORE (Ky.) and Ted CruzTed CruzWarren builds her brand with 2020 down the road Trump wall faces skepticism on border No Congress members along Mexico border support funding Trump's wall MORE (Texas) voting with Democrats against Ryan's plan. Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioRubio defends Trump: 'This whole flip-flop thing is a political thing' Rubio: Shutdown would have 'catastrophic impact' on global affairs Sunday shows preview: Trump stares down 100-day mark MORE (R-Fla.), a prospective 2016 GOP presidential nominee, voted for Ryan's budget.
GOP rising star Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will offer his own, more conservative budget blueprint.