Confirming rumors that had circulated earlier in the day, Sen. John McCain said Tuesday evening that he would ‘yes’ on a budget bill that once passed will unlock reconciliation, allowing the senate to pass President Trump’s tax reform plan with a simple majority.
While it’s still unclear if the budget bill has enough votes to pass, McCain’s support is a crucial obstacle and follows similar declarations by Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski – two other holdouts who had opposed the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.
“For too long, draconian budget cuts to the military have crippled readiness and put the lives of our service members in danger,” McCain said in a statement. "At the end of the day, we all know that the Senate budget resolution will not impact final appropriations."
McCain had been holding out support based on an insistence that defense spending increase by billions of dollars. Final spending numbers for the year are expected to be negotiated between congressional Republicans, Democrats and the White House ahead of a Dec. 8 funding deadline, the Hill reported.
McCain said that he will vote yes on the budget because he supports tax reform.
The Arizona Republican's decision follows a public feud with Sen. Rand Paul over McCain’s push to increase military spending. Paul seems unlikely to be able to push his demand to cut $43 billion worth of "off-book" defense spending, or block the resolution's passage, especially now that Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran has returned from a medical leave, giving the Republican leadership more breathing room to advance the bill.
Hopes that the Trump administration would manage to pass tax reform by its self-imposed year-end deadline have dimmed in recent weeks as lawmakers criticized the administration's nine-page outline, complaining that it would raise taxes on many members of the middle class while cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy. President Donald Trump said yesterday during a press conference with Mitch McConnell that while the administration was shooting to pass tax reform by the year-end deadline, it took the Reagan administration "many years" to pass the last major tax initiative - suggesting that it wouldn't be the end of the world if the plan doesn't pass until next year.