The Senate Budget Committee voted along party lines to advance the Senate’s version the GOP tax bill on Tuesday, with the 12 Republicans voting in favor and the 11 Democrats voting against — but the procedural vote wasn’t without drama.
First and foremost, Republican holdouts, Senators Ron Johnson and Bob Corker, voted in favor of the bill, despite issuing strong statements against it earlier in the day.
“You talk about swallowing something, if we could take the entire individual side of this, throw it in the trash can and take it directly to the incinerator. I would be thrilled if we were only talking about the business side,” Corker had said, though he later voted to advance the bill.
The meeting was also interrupted at one point by protesters, who were arrested, chanting “shame” and “kill the bill.” They drowned out the “aye” votes of the Republican Senators.
Protesters, some in wheelchairs, removed from Senate budget hearing while chanting "Shame on you!" and "Don't kill us, kill the bill." pic.twitter.com/EoeJtGC6Cu
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) November 28, 2017
After the vote, however, the Republican members of the Committee, except Chairman Mike Enzi, left the chamber, leaving only the Democrats, who offered their comments and criticisms of the bill. Senator Bernie Sanders, the ranking member of the minority on the committee, noted the symbolic gesture.
“Every Republican except the chairman has left the budget hearing on the tax bill. Why are they afraid to defend their plan to raise taxes on 87 million middle class households?” Sanders tweeted.
Every Republican except the chairman has left the budget hearing on the tax bill. Why are they afraid to defend their plan to raise taxes on 87 million middle class households? pic.twitter.com/Wl7yytQFyD
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) November 28, 2017
Democratic Mark Warner noted the absence of his GOP colleagues during his comments, comparing it to “folks running away frmo the scene of a crime.”
During the Republicans’ absence, Democrats shredded the controversial tax bill, promising to “derail it” in favor of bipartisan legislation — they were not included in the process to craft the bill. The Democrats were also upset over how quickly the vote took place.
The Congressional Budget Office found that the bill would significantly benefit Americans earning more than $100,000, while middle class and poorer Americans would end up worse off and healthcare premiums would rise. The CBO also said the bill could add $1.4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade if it is passed.
The bill now heads to the Senate floor for debate and a full vote, which could take place within weeks and as early as Thursday.