The Senate narrowly passed a budget for the first time in four years on a mostly party line vote, calling for $975 billion in additional tax revenue over the next 10 years along with state sales tax collections on online sales.
The fiscal 2014 budget plan that passed the Senate after midnight Friday night has little in common with the Republican budget plan that passed the House last week and it is unclear how the two parties will reconcile them (see House GOP Passes Paul Ryan’s Budget Plan). The Obama administration has not yet released its budget blueprint.
Despite the uncertainty, Senate Budget Committee chair Patty Murray, D-Wash., hailed the passage of the budget plan she had introduced and indicated that she was ready to work with House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on producing a final budget that could pass both chambers.
“I am proud of the work we did in the Budget Committee and on the Senate floor to write, debate, and pass a responsible budget plan that puts economic growth and the middle class first,” she said in a statement. “I want to especially thank the many people across the country who shared their stories, ideas, and priorities with us as we put this budget together. While it is clear that the policies, values, and priorities of the Senate Budget are very different than those articulated in the House Budget, I know the American people are expecting us to work together to end the gridlock and find common ground, and I plan to continue doing exactly that. I spoke with Chairman Ryan after his budget passed the House to congratulate him and continue our conversation about moving this process forward. I am confident that if Republicans join Democrats at the table and are truly ready to compromise, we can get to the balanced and bipartisan deal that the American people expect and deserve.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., was skeptical about the prospects for the Democrats’ budget making headway in the Republican-dominated House.
“Although Senate Democrats finally generated a budget after four years, the plan they produced raises taxes, increases spending and debt and never, ever balances,” he said in a statement. “Top Washington Democrats said they simply don’t care about balancing the budget anymore, and it certainly shows in this tax and spend proposal. This budget is a rehash of the extreme policies that continue to hobble the economy and crush the middle class. The only good news is that the fiscal path the Democrats laid out in their budget resolution won’t become law.”
While the legislation is not binding, it contained a key test vote on a plan to give the states the ability to require online merchants to collect sales taxes from e-commerce customers. Businesses with less than $1 million in online sales would be exempted. A bipartisan group of 75 senators voted in favor of the Marketplace Fairness Act, which was included as an amendment in the budget resolution and was introduced by Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
“Today’s vote proves that an overwhelming majority of Senators support this bipartisan legislation to level the playing field for brick-and-mortar retailers,” Durbin said in a statement. “The Marketplace Fairness Act is a bill whose time has come in Congress and one that is long overdue for states, local governments and small businesses. I thank Senators Enzi, Alexander, Cardin, Heitkamp, Reed and many others for their efforts in securing support for this legislation. In order for this bill to become law, we’ll need to stand up for businesses and retailers across America once again in the Senate with a decisive vote on the full Marketplace Fairness Act. I expect a bipartisan coalition in the House will join us.”
Separately, the Senate passed a continuing resolution on Thursday to fund the federal government through the end of September, averting the possibility of a government shutdown. The vote was 73-26.