- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Senate Budget Committee advanced its 2018 fiscal blueprint on Thursday, moving forward on Republican plans to fast-track a tax reform package hours after the full House passed its own 2018 spending outline.

The approximately $1 trillion spending plan for 2018 that advances to the Senate floor projects a $641 billion deficit for the current fiscal year, but anticipates that a combination of trillions of dollars in spending cuts and economic growth will produce a surplus in 10 years.

But more significantly, it contains language that fast-tracks a would-be tax reform package by preventing Democrats from blocking it through a filibuster on the Senate floor.

“The goal of this legislation is to enable subsequent tax reform that can restore the economic growth we’ve been waiting so long to enjoy,” said Sen. Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania Republican.

The blueprint passed the budget committee on a 12-11 vote that split along party lines.

The Senate plan also clears the way for a tax overhaul that could add up to $1.5 trillion to the deficit, while the House plan anticipates that the tax legislation won’t add to deficits.

The $549 billion for defense spending, excluding special overseas contingency funds, and $516 billion for domestic programs in the Senate plan are in line with projected mandatory spending caps laid out by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Meanwhile, the House’s $621.5 billion defense budget for 2018 busts through those caps. It takes 60 votes in the Senate to change the 2011 law and lift the caps, which lawmakers have done in the past.

Democrats have said the spending levels for non-defense programs are inadequate, though there’s little chance that the levels outlined in either the House or the Senate plan will become law.

Democrats have also blasted the House and Senate plans as massive giveaways to the wealthy, at the expense of social programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

“I believe, and the people on our side believe, that the budget being brought forth is one of the most unfair and destructive budgets ever proposed in the modern history of this country,” said Sen. Bernard Sanders, an independent who serves as ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee.

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