Senate Republicans unveiled a fiscal 2018 budget resolution Friday that they intend to use to push through as much as $1.5 trillion of tax cuts in the coming months, but it won’t allow the GOP to pursue a full de-funding of the Affordable Care Act.
The budget proposal would still allow Republicans to pursue a much narrower attack on the Affordable Care Act, including repealing the individual mandate to purchase coverage. The resolution also would let the GOP use the fast-track process to open up drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The budget, authored by Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi, forecasts a balance in nine years through $5 trillion in largely unspecified spending cuts. Unlike the House budget proposed in July, Enzi’s blueprint doesn’t call for cuts to Medicaid or a partial privatization of Medicare.
“A pro-growth tax plan will move the U.S. economy forward and help to produce better jobs and bigger paychecks for every American,” Enzi, of Wyoming, said in an emailed statement.
The Senate draft is to be voted on by the Budget Committee next week, with floor votes planned later in October and a conference to resolve differences with the House after that. The House plans a floor vote on its budget plan next week.
Once in place, the budget resolution would allow Republicans to bring up a tax-cut bill that would increase deficits by as much as $1.5 trillion, compared with a Congressional Budget Office baseline. Under the fast-track process, the GOP-controlled Senate could pass the proposal with no Democratic votes.
The budget sets a target for the Senate Finance to report back with its draft tax bill by Nov. 13.
“The Senate budget resolution drafted by Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi is a critical step to advance President Trump’s agenda to provide tax relief for the middle-class and unleash economic prosperity for all Americans,” said White House budget director Mick Mulvaney in a statement. “I urge the Senate to pass this resolution and come to a swift agreement with the House so President Trump can sign America-first tax relief into law this year.”
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said the GOP plan would “blow a huge hole in the deficit and stack up debt, leading to cuts in programs that middle-class Americans rely on.”
Individual Tax Rate
President Donald Trump and Republican leaders announced a tax-cut plan Wednesday that would cut the top individual rate to 35 percent from the current 39.6 percent. It would let Congress decide whether to create a higher bracket for those at the top of the income scale. The rate on corporations would be set at 20 percent, down from the current 35 percent. Under Senate rules, any tax cuts that increase the deficit would have to expire in 10 years because the budget process can’t be used for long-term deficit increases.
The provision making it easier for Congress to allow oil and gas drilling in part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was sought by Alaska Republican Dan Sullivan. Under the proposal, royalties from oil and gas production in the wildlife refuge would be raise revenue that could help offset at least $1 billion in tax cuts over a decade.
The proposal’s instructions to the Finance Committee could allow a partial repeal of Obamacare, although panel Chairman Orrin Hatch has said he will keep that separate from a tax overhaul. Republican leaders have said they won’t try again on the health-care law until fiscal 2019.