GOP senator’s absence puts budget, tax reform on knife’s edge

GOP senator’s absence puts budget, tax reform on knife’s edge

Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranMcConnell urging Mississippi gov to appoint himself if Cochran resigns: report A pro-science approach to Yucca Mountain appropriations Senate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA MORE's (R-Miss.) health problems are keeping him from returning to the Senate this week — and have put the GOP budget on a knife’s edge.

The budget resolution, which would unlock the White House’s tax reform plan, needs a simple majority to pass the Senate.

With Cochran out for the time being, however, Republicans may have just 50 votes in favor of the budget. Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulPentagon: War in Afghanistan will cost billion in 2018 Overnight Finance: Senators near two-year budget deal | Trump would 'love to see a shutdown' over immigration | Dow closes nearly 600 points higher after volatile day | Trade deficit at highest level since 2008 | Pawlenty leaving Wall Street group Rand Paul calls for punishment if Congress can't reach a long-term budget deal MORE (R-Ky.) is expected to vote against the resolution.

That would still give the budget a 50-49 margin, but the GOP would not be able to afford another defection.

The budget includes reconciliation instructions that would shield a tax reform package from a Democratic filibuster.

It appears likely that the GOP will have the votes necessary to pass its budget even without Cochran and Paul.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerPentagon: War in Afghanistan will cost billion in 2018 K.T. McFarland officially withdrawn as nominee for ambassador K.T. McFarland withdraws as nominee for ambassador MORE (R-Tenn.), for example, has put up sharp red lines on tax reform, saying he will not vote for a deficit-increasing proposal. But Corker pledged to support the budget to ensure the debate on tax reform would go forward.

Other GOP Senators who have bucked their party this year, such as Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration GOP senators turning Trump immigration framework into legislation Longtime Clinton confidant blames Comey for 2016 loss MORE (Maine) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Meghan McCain: Melania is 'my favorite Trump, by far' Kelly says Trump not likely to extend DACA deadline MORE (Arizona), have expressed willingness to advance the resolution.

Cochran's office announced on Monday that the Senator, who has been absent for weeks as he battles uncertain health, had developed a urinary tract infection, and would only return “when his health permits.”