House Advances Budget Resolution, in First Step Toward Major Tax Bill

The House of Representatives passed a 2018 budget resolution on Thursday, a first step down the path toward a major tax bill.

The chamber voted 219-206 to adopt its version of the budget. All Democrats and 18 Republicans voted against it. The Senate Budget Committee is heading toward a vote on its alternative later on Thursday.

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"This is the most conservative budget in 20 years," said Rep. Diane Black (R., Tenn.), who chairs the House Budget Committee. "The vision in there, if we were to follow it, really could change the trajectory of this country."

The budget is particularly important this year because it is the prerequisite to using reconciliation for a major tax bill. That fast-track procedure will enable the Senate to pass a subsequent tax bill on a simple-majority vote rather than needing 60 votes, which would require at least some Democrats voting for the bill.

The House and Senate will have to work out some differences, and that could take negotiations into November because the two chambers' schedules in Washington don't align, Mrs. Black said.

The House budget calls for a revenue-neutral tax bill, after assuming that the tax plan will generate economic growth. The House plan also calls for attaching $203 billion in miscellaneous spending cuts over a decade.

The Senate plan lacks those attachments, except for a plank that could allow for a fast-track vote on Arctic oil drilling. Under the Senate plan, Republicans could cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over a decade, and that figure doesn't assume any economic growth.

The Senate framework seems likely to prevail, because of the chamber's parliamentary rules and Republicans' narrow margins there, though Ms. Black said House members will fight for their vision.

The budget doesn't have to be signed by President Donald Trump. After the House and Senate agree and vote on a final budget, the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to release a detailed tax bill and schedule a committee vote.

The tax plan itself will follow the framework that Republican leaders outlined last week. It includes lower tax rates on corporations, other businesses and individuals. Getting that to fit inside the $1.5 trillion constraint will be challenging and major revenue-raising pieces -- such as repeal of the state and local tax deduction for individuals -- are already under attack.

Thursday's budget vote was, potentially, an early preview of future debates. Five of the 18 Republican votes against the budget came from New York and New Jersey Republicans, who have expressed the most concern about repealing the deduction.

Democrats said the spending cuts called for under the GOP budgets would be damaging.

"It targets disproportionately the most vulnerable. Budgets represent our values, and if this represents Republican values, then shame on you, " said Rep. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.) "That, to me, is what this budget represents -- it's about making things worse for pay for a tax cut for wealthy people."

Write to Richard Rubin at and Siobhan Hughes at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 05, 2017 13:11 ET (17:11 GMT)