Senate committee remains undecided on passing budget

Senate committee remains undecided on passing budget
© Keren Carrion

The Senate Budget Committee is still unsure if it will pass its own budget resolution or allow the broader Senate chamber to take up a simple shell budget for unlocking tax reform. 

Committee member Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) told reporters on Tuesday that he didn’t know if the committee would ultimately mark up the budget resolution. He also said he wasn’t concerned about the prospect of a budget being essentially a shell “because I believe in the need to do tax reform.” 

A Senate GOP aide also indicated that there was no final decision on whether the budget would move through the committee, but expressed optimism.

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“I think we are on track for markup. Not sure exact timing but sooner rather than later,” the aide said.

In August, Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerDeficit hawks voice worry over direction of tax plan The Hill Interview: Budget Chair Black sticks around for now Overnight Finance: White House requests B for disaster relief | Ex-Equifax chief grilled over stock sales | House panel approves B for border wall | Tax plan puts swing-state Republicans in tough spot MORE (R-Tenn.) also suggested that the committee might simply abstain from the process.

“I’m not even sure there’s going to be a budget that comes through committee,” he said at the time.

If the budget fails to go through committee, it would be only the latest setback for normal order in the budgetary process. For years, Congress has failed to pass individual appropriations bills on time, often opting for a delayed, last-minute compromise deal to be worked out among leadership behind closed doors.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanThe Hill Interview: Budget Chair Black sticks around for now Gun proposal picks up GOP support GOP lawmaker Tim Murphy to retire at end of term MORE (R-Wis.) crowed that the House had passed 12 appropriations bills on time for the first time in years, though the bills had been lumped into larger spending packages. The House budget resolution, meant to outline the spending levels in those bills, has still not been approved on the House floor.

Likewise, Senate appropriators have moved ahead with marking up most of their appropriations bills despite lacking the guidance of a budget document. The two chambers are operating off different spending figures altogether, which they will have have to reconcile — and gain some Senate Democratic support for — to avert a shutdown in early December.

For Republicans, the resolutions now serve as little more than a means of unlocking reconciliation, the budgetary process that will allow them to pass tax reform with a simple, 51-vote majority in the Senate. 

Disagreements continue within the party as to whether the resolution demands the reforms to be deficit neutral or allow for revenue losses.  

Some senators are reportedly seeking to include a tax cut of $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion over the course of a decade.

Kennedy said increased economic growth could make up for lost revenues.

“If you cut taxes, you will grow the economy and you will increase tax revenues,” he said.