The Senate Budget Committee passed the upper chamber’s tax reform legislation along party lines Tuesday, bringing Republicans one step closer to overhauling the tax code.
Its passage comes shortly after President Donald Trump attended the Senate Republican policy luncheon, where he pushed lawmakers to get behind the measure. Senate GOP leaders said they hope to bring the measure to the floor for a vote before the end of the year.
“As you know, we had a lunch with the president,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters after the lunch. “He did Q&A with our members for about an hour. He underscored the importance of accomplishing for the American people the first comprehensive tax reform in 31 years, which we fully intend to accomplish in the next few days.”
Two hesitant GOP members of the Budget Committee — Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — opted to advance the measure after receiving assurances their concerns would be addressed. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — who previously expressed concerns over language repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate — said she feels they are making progress, but would like to see a number of provisions changed.
While Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn had hoped for a procedural vote on the measure Wednesday, McConnell acknowledged crafting a bill that can garner the 50 votes needed to pass is “a challenging exercise.”
“Think of sitting there with a Rubik’s cube trying to get to 50, and we do have a few members who have concerns, and we’re trying to address them,” he said. “Ask we know we would not be able to go forward until we get 50 people satisfied, and that’s what we’re working on.”
Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz said he’s confident they will garner enough support to pass the bill.
“We will keep at it as long as it takes to get a majority and build a consensus, and I think we’re making steady and consistent progress,” he told reporters.
If the Senate passes its bill, the chambers are then expected to conference their bills. The House passed its bill ahead of the Thanksgiving recess.