WASHINGTON - The Senate has passed a $4 trillion budget blueprint that is a major step forward for President Donald Trump's ambitious promises for "massive tax cuts and reform."
The 51-49 vote sets the stage for debate later this year to dramatically overhaul the U.S. tax code, cutting rates for individuals and corporations while clearing away trillions of dollars' worth of deductions and special-interest tax breaks.
The tax cuts would add up to $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the coming decade, however, as Republicans shelve worries about the growing budget deficit in favor of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rewrite tax laws.
When reconciled with the House budget plan, the nonbinding measure would set up special procedures to pass follow-up tax legislation without the threat of a filibuster by Senate Democrats.
President Donald Trump says he thinks Senate Republicans have the votes for their budget - hours after tweeting his uncertainty.
Trump needs the Senate to follow the House and pass the spending blueprint so lawmakers can move on to the tax cuts he wants.
The Senate plans a late-night vote on the budget, and Trump predicted it will roll over into Friday morning.
Trump said: "I think we're in really good shape." He had tweeted early Thursday, "I think we have the votes, but who knows?"
So far, just one of 52 Senate Republicans has expressed opposition to the plan.
Trump commented during an Oval Office meeting with Puerto Rico's governor. The president said he has "great respect" for Sen. Thad Cochran, who is ailing and flew in from Mississippi to vote.
President Donald Trump is rooting for fellow Senate Republicans to succeed in efforts to pass a massive $4.1 trillion budget plan. But in a tweet before daybreak Thursday, the president said, "I think we have the votes, but who knows?"
Trump noted in the post that "Republicans are going for the big Budget approval today, first step toward massive tax cuts."
Trump and Senate Republicans are buoyed about prospects for passage of the budget blueprint because if Congress completes action on this legislation, it will set the stage for majority Republicans to focus more intensively on the tax overhaul legislation. Trump campaigned on the issue and GOP lawmakers have embraced it.
They are all hoping for a smashing legislative victory to atone for the party's failure to deliver on it's long-promised effort to repeal former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.
Senate Republicans are on track to pass a $4 trillion budget plan that shelves GOP deficit concerns in favor of the party's drive to cut taxes.
The nonbinding budget plan, slated for a vote late Thursday, would set the stage for tax legislation later this year that could pass through the Senate without fear of a filibuster by Democrats - and add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years.
The upcoming tax measure, always a top item on the GOP agenda this year, has taken on even greater urgency with the failure of the party to carry out its longstanding promise to repeal former President Barack Obama's signature health care law.