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House passes $4T budget in step forward for Trump tax plan – AP News

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House on Thursday gave a significant boost to President Donald Trump’s promise to cut taxes, narrowly passing a GOP budget that shelves longstanding concerns over federal deficits in favor of a rewrite of the tax code that Republicans promise will jump-start the economy.

The 216-212 vote permits Republicans to begin work on a follow-up $1.5 trillion tax cut and move it through Congress without fear of blocking tactics by Democrats. The tax bill is the top item on the GOP agenda, would be Trump’s first major win in Congress — and, Republicans hope, a much-needed boost for the party’s political fortunes on the eve of next year’s midterm elections.

GOP leaders scrambled in recent days to overcame opposition from House conservatives unhappy about deficits and debt, and lawmakers from high-tax states such as New York and New Jersey, who are upset about plans to curb the state and local tax deduction.

The Senate passed the measure last week and the House endorsed it without changes, a step designed to allow Republicans to move quickly to the tax measure in hopes of passing it into law this year.

Republicans view passage of the tax measure as a career-defining dream, and its importance has only grown in the wake of the party’s debacle on health care. But the tax plan’s popularity is not a given with voters, and fissures among Republicans already threaten to slow the measure.

Battles over the state and local tax deduction and tax-free contributions to retirement accounts have already broken open, and Republican tax writers have yet to lock down dozens of crucial details on tax rates and preferences.

The underlying budget measure abandons the Republican Party’s longstanding promise to rein in deficits in favor of Trump’s boast of “massive tax cuts.” The measure drops proposed cuts to mandatory programs such as food stamps, though conservatives promise to take on spending cuts later.

“I still feel strongly about addressing unsustainable mandatory spending,” said Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., who chairs the House Budget Committee. “I think we will tackle this important issue in the future. We don’t have a choice.”

Democrats united against the plan, arguing its tax cuts will pad the bank accounts of the wealthy and the balance sheets of corporations, while delivering modest relief — or none at all — to middle-income taxpayers.

“These tax cuts will not create an economic boom, but will instead lead to a higher concentration of wealth among the rich, while dramatically increasing deficits and debt,” said Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky.

The budget plan calls for $5 trillion in spending cuts over the decade, including cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and the Obama-era health care law, though Republicans have no plans to actually impose those cuts with follow-up legislation. Some Democrats criticized the measure for ruthless spending cuts; others took the opposite approach, failing it for tackling the deficit.

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