WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Thursday gave final approval to a 2018 GOP budget resolution, allowing for a $1.5-trillion deficit increase that sets the stage for President Donald Trump’s tax cuts.
Republicans overcame internal divisions about the budget but must still resolve differences over the coming tax package, which is scheduled to be unveiled next week.
The largely party-line vote was 216-212, with 20 Republicans joining all Democrats to oppose.
“With this budget we have an opportunity to move forward on a major opportunity for the American people,” said Rep. Kevin Brady, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee that is drafting the tax bill. “Real tax reform is on the way.”
Passage allows Congress to use special budget rules to approve the upcoming tax package on a simple majority vote, preventing Democratic opponents from blocking it with a filibuster in the Senate.
Republicans in the House, though, were upset that they were being asked to accept the Senate’s version of the budget, with the additional $1.5-trillion deficit, rather than their own resolution.
Conservatives, in particular, balked that Republicans who railed for years against deficits under President Barack Obama now were accepting the red ink for the tax package.
“Conservative leaders would have slammed this Big-Government Budget under Pres. Obama. Now, they demand Republicans in Congress vote for it,” tweeted Rep. Justin Amash. “2011-2016: Principles! 2017: End justifies the means.”
The budget serves as a partisan blueprint of fiscal priorities for the federal government, but does not carry the force of law.
The president and the Republican leadership in Congress have argued that economic growth generated by the tax cuts will more than cover the costs.
Republicans are pushing to unveil the tax cuts package next week, promising to lower corporate and individual tax rates, but also do away with some deductions used by Americans who itemize their returns.
They are racing to pass the sweeping overhaul in the House by Thanksgiving and the Senate by year end, hoping to achieve a top GOP priority ahead of next year’s midterm election.
Critics say the tax package will primarily benefit corporations and wealthy individuals.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the package is little more than the “trickle-down” economics of days past, “shaking down the middle class, ripping off the middle class.”
“They say, ‘Oh, it’ll pay for it.’ Never has. Never has,” she said. “It’s nonsense.