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Tax bill clears Senate Budget Committee

The Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday advanced the chamber's GOP tax bill.

The measure was approved by a party-line vote of 12-11, with two key Republicans voting for the measure after previously expressing concerns.

The vote sends the measure to the Senate floor, where the bill could start to be considered as early as Wednesday. Overhauling the tax code is a top priority for Republicans and they are hoping to get legislation to President Trump's desk by Christmas. 

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Trump visited the Senate Republicans' lunch just before the vote in an effort to rally lawmakers on the bill.

Monday evening, two GOP senators, Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGeorgia Republican Drew Ferguson tests positive for COVID-19 GOP faces fundraising reckoning as Democrats rake in cash Overnight Defense: Trump campaign's use of military helicopter raises ethics concerns | Air Force jets intercept aircraft over Trump rally | Senators introduce bill to expand visa screenings MORE (Wis.) and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCornyn: Relationships with Trump like 'women who get married and think they're going to change their spouse' Trump excoriates Sasse over leaked audio Has Congress captured Russia policy? MORE (Tenn.), had left the door open to voting against the measure in committee if their concerns weren't addressed before then. Johnson has expressed concerns that the bill doesn't do enough to help pass-through businesses, while Corker is concerned about the impact on the debt.

However, they ultimately decided to vote in favor of the measure.

Corker told reporters that he has an "outline of an agreement" with the Senate Finance Committee and leadership on a backstop in the event that the bill does not produce as much economic growth as expected.

The Budget Committee combined the tax bill with a measure that allows drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Democrats on the panel blasted the bill, arguing that it would mostly benefit wealthy individuals and corporations and increase the deficit. 

Protesters repeatedly interrupted the Budget Committee meeting, chanting phrases such as "stop the tax scam" and "kill the bill."

- This report was updated at 3:18 p.m.