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. 

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 JohnsonScott Walker considering running for Wisconsin governor or Senate: report GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers The Hill's 12:30 Report: O'Rourke jumps into 2020 fray MORE (Wis.) and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump keeps tight grip on GOP Brexit and exit: A transatlantic comparison Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger 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.