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Without a Hearing and Amid Protests, Senate Budget Panel Passes Tax Bill

The Senate budget committee only allocated only 15 minutes for the debate.

Protesters demonstrate near the full Senate budget committee markup of the tax reform legislation on Capital Hill November 28, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo: Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images)

Senate Republicans’ $1.4 trillion tax bill was narrowly passed out of the Budget Committee in a party-line vote, clearing its final hurdle before what will likely be contentious consideration in the full upper chamber.

As with its passage earlier this month out of the Senate Finance Committee, the legislation was approved by the budget panel on Tuesday in a 12-11 vote, without first holding a hearing on its impact.

The committee’s ranking member, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) lashed out at the hastiness with which the bill was being considered.

“This is one of the most important pieces of legislation to come before this committee in recent years, and I have to tell you that I am extremely disappointed that you have allocated only 15 minutes for debate,” Sanders said.

“That is wrong and it is wrong that the budget committee has not yet held a single hearing on this tax bill — not one,” the Senator added.

Sanders went on to call the tax cut proposal “disastrous and unfair.” He cited a recent CBO analysis of the plan, which found that due to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and the expiration of other provisions, the bill would actually increase taxes on millions of middle class Americans.

Sanders went on to note that further analysis of the legislation shows that 62 percent of the tax benefits would flow to just the top 1 percent of Americans.

Though Republicans have been intent on legislating with speed, Tuesday’s markup was interrupted by protestors. Committee chairman Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) briefly delayed the hearing while Capitol Police officers cleared dissenters from the room.

During the roll call vote, however, multiple individuals could be heard shouting over Senators with chants of “kill the bill” and “stop the tax scam.”

The legislation could be considered in the full Senate as early as next week. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) can only afford two Republican defections in order to secure passage of the bill through reconciliation.

Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Steve Daines (R-MT) already expressed reservations about supporting the bill, saying they wanted more tax cuts for businesses included.

Johnson, however, supported the measure in Tuesday’s committee vote. Daines is not on the Senate Budget Committee.

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