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 BaucusBusiness groups express support for Branstad nomination The mysterious sealed opioid report fuels speculation Lobbying World MORE (D-Mont.), Kay HaganKay HaganGOP senator floats retiring over gridlock 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map The untold stories of the 2016 battle for the Senate MORE (D-N.C.), Mark PryorMark PryorCotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Top Democrats are no advocates for DC statehood MORE (D-Ark.), Mark BegichMark BegichThe future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map Trump campaign left out of Alaska voter guide MORE (D-Alaska), Joe DonnellyJoe DonnellyOvernight Energy: Fight over miners' benefits risks shutdown | Flint aid crosses finish line in House House approves funding bill, but fate in Senate unclear Messer eyes challenging Donnelly for Indiana Senate seat MORE (D-Ind.) and Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampSenate Democrats dig in as shutdown approaches Overnight Finance: Senate Dems dig in as shutdown looms | Trump taps fast-food exec for Labor chief | Portland's new CEO tax McConnell tees up spending bill as shutdown looms MORE (D-N.D.). If they all voted “no,” the budget would fail.
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidClintons remember John Glenn as a 'uniquely American hero' Clinton reappears on Capitol Hill for Reid send-off Pressure grows on Perez to enter DNC race 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 TesterRed-state Dems face tough votes on Trump picks Montana Republican warns of Senate challenge to Tester Vulnerable Dems ready to work with Trump 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 LandrieuFive unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist Trump’s implosion could cost GOP in Louisiana Senate race 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 MurrayReid defends relationship with McConnell in farewell speech Top Dem signals likely opposition to Sessions nomination Overnight Finance: Trump takes victory lap at Carrier plant | House passes 'too big to fail' revamp | Trump econ team takes shape 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 Sessions House passes water bill with Flint aid, drought relief Liberal Dems: Trump filling Cabinet with 'stooges' Poll: Most say Trump will change DC 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 SandersPressure grows on Perez to enter DNC race Senate sends annual defense bill to Obama's desk AFL-CIO endorses Ellison for DNC chair MORE (I-Vt.), Mazie HironoMazie HironoBudowsky: Did Putin elect Trump? This Week in Cybersecurity: Dems press for information on Russian hacks Overnight Cybersecurity: Last-ditch effort to stop expanded hacking powers fails MORE (D-Hawaii) and Tom HarkinTom HarkinGrassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Do candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? 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 RyanOvernight Healthcare: Burwell huddles with Dems on fighting ObamaCare repeal Reid: Bring back the earmarks Ryan: GOP won’t ‘pull the rug out’ from 'Dreamers' MORE (R-Wis.), which balances in 10 years using deep spending cuts. It was voted down 40 to 59, with GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsDems, greens gear up for fight against Trump EPA pick Medicare looms over Trump-Ryan alliance Senators crafting bill to limit deportations under Trump MORE (Maine), Dean HellerDean HellerReid bids farewell to the Senate Reid defends relationship with McConnell in farewell speech Governments and businesses: Teaming up for taxpayers MORE (Nev.), Mike LeeMike LeeSenate sends annual defense bill to Obama's desk Overnight Healthcare: Medical cures bill finally heads to White House Overnight Energy: Trump taps EPA foe to head agency | Energy reform bill officially dead MORE (Utah), Rand PaulRand PaulBrexit leader Farage pushing US-UK trade deal to Trump Senate sends annual defense bill to Obama's desk GOP rep: Trump has 'extra-constitutional' view of presidency MORE (Ky.) and Ted CruzTed CruzThe Hill's 12:30 Report Cruz defends Trump's Taiwan call Ark., Texas senators put cheese dip vs. queso to the test MORE (Texas) voting with Democrats against Ryan's plan. Sen. Marco RubioMarco Rubio House passes water bill with Flint aid, drought relief What the 2016 election can tell us about 2018 midterms Fight over water bill heats up in Senate 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.