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 CochranTop 5 races to watch in 2019 Bottom Line Races Dems narrowly lost show party needs to return to Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy 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 PaulPressure mounts for Trump to reconsider Syria withdrawal House Republicans call for moving State of the Union to Senate chamber GOP rep: 'Rand Paul is giving the president bad advice' on Afghanistan and Syria MORE (R-Ky.) is expected to vote against the resolution.

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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 CorkerThe Memo: Romney moves stir worries in Trump World Senate GOP names first female members to Judiciary panel Former US special envoy to anti-ISIS coalition joins Stanford University as lecturer 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 CollinsTrump pitches new plan to reopen government amid Dem pushback The Memo: Concern over shutdown grows in Trump World Overnight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal MORE (Maine) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainListen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home Overnight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal Bipartisan senators reintroduce bill to prevent Trump from withdrawing from NATO 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.”