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Senate Considers Broadening Budget Resolution

Move would allow GOP to legislate on more topics without filibuster fear

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks back to his office after speaking to reporters on Oct. 3, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks back to his office after speaking to reporters on Oct. 3, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is considering beefing up the fiscal 2018 budget resolution to address a broader swath of issues beyond a tax overhaul, including the rollback of regulations on the financial industry, lawmakers said.

The additions might not be included in the Senate’s version before a floor vote, lawmakers said, but could be added during an expected conference with the House. The Senate Budget Committee begins its markup of the budget resolution Wednesday.  

Broadening the committees included could allow Republicans to try to address a number of pending agenda items through the budget reconciliation process, the fast-track tool that only requires simple majority support to pass in the Senate.

Inside the Senate’s Budget Resolution: What It Means and What’s Next

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The House version includes instructions to 11 authorizing committees to find a minimum of $203 billion in mandatory spending over the next 10 years. The House is expected to vote on it this week.

While the proposal released by the Senate Budget panel last week included both the Senate Finance and Energy and Natural Resources committees, additions could come.

“Now there’s talk about maybe even expanding it. It’s part of the normal discussion,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said of Friday’s draft.

A spokesman for the Senate Budget Committee pointed to this week’s two-day markup of the budget resolution.

“We will have to see what amendments are offered and accepted,” he said in an email.

Cornyn specifically mentioned including the Senate Banking Committee in the resolution, which would give Republicans the ability to try to include changes to the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act governing the financial industry in the final product.

But the majority whip cautioned that the GOP’s focus should singularly be on the tax overhaul.

“The challenge is, every time you include something else you may gain a vote, but you also may lose a vote,” Cornyn said.

Others were more open to the idea.

“We’ve had a very broad series of discussions. No decisions have been made,” Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota said. “I think it’s a healthy debate to have.”

Rounds called addressing the tax code “critical,” but said it’s a “viable, reasonable question to discuss” if there is a way to legislate on other things that could stimulate economic growth.

Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska said those discussions could be punted to conference negotiations with the House.

“If they’ve done it one way, does that enable us to do something in a conference committee even if we didn’t do it in our budget?” he said. “I think having that flexibility from our perspective makes sense.”

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